The Catholic bishops early this week expressed concerns over how the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is handling its business of dealing with corruption in the country. In its latest Pastoral Letter in which the clergy have raised a number of concerns, the bishops expressed dismay declaring that “the way the fight against corruption is being waged is posing more questions than answers.”
“Malawians expected the relevant agencies entrusted with leading the fight against corruption to decisively and effectively combat this social ill that has become a cause for worry. The way the fight against corruption is being waged is posing more questions than answers,” reads part of the Letter.
The Pastoral Letter has been signed by the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ACM) led by the Most Reverend George Desmond Tambala, who is the ECM President and Archbishop of Lilongwe.
Other signatories include Right Reverend Montfort Stima, ECM Vice President of the Diocese of Mangochi; Most Reverend Thomas Luke Msusa of Archdiocese of Blantyre; Right Reverend Peter Musikuwa, Diocese of Chikwawa; Right Reverend Martin Mtumbuka, Diocese of Karonga; Right Reverend John Ryan, Diocese of Mzuzu; and Right Reverend Peter Chifukwa, Diocese of Dedza.
The Pastoral Letter comes just a week after the ACB saw its case against one corruption suspect former Police Chief George Kainja being thrown out. In the case the ACB, led by Martha Chizuma, wanted the presiding Judge Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda to recuse himself from hearing a case in which Kainja has applied for a judicial review against his arrest and prosecution.
In his ruling, Kenyatta made several observations in the way the ACB handled the recusal application and exposed the incompetence of the Bureau is handling court cases. Among several others the Judge observed that the application failed to cite the provision under which it was made; lacked legal basis; had no reference at all to any authority, caselaw or otherwise, in support of the Application for Recusal; and that it failed in many other procedural requirements of the court.
“The ACB failed to adduce even an iota (scintilla) of evidence in support of the Application for Recusal. It was based on the mere figment of imagination of the ACB. The application was not not supported by “legally relevant facts and prescriptions of law,” observed Kenyatta, who pointed out further that the ACB’s court errors were fatal and incurable.
All what the Bishops and Kenyatta raised are not new issues. For a while, ACB has been embroiled in many legal incompetence which at one time also forced the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Dr Steve Kayuni writing Chizuma also expressing worries.
In his letter in July this year, Kayuni admonished the head of the graft bursting body describing her approach to investigations and court submissions as an embarrassment and disappointment to other law enforcement agencies in the country.
In all senses the letter also exposed Chizuma’s incompetence and self-centredness indicating that in one of the many cases she is supposed to handle with other law enforcement agencies, Chizuma has opted to pursue her own angle to the matter departing from what others were doing.
Kayuni expressed worry that her “embarrassing” approach could derail or collapse state cases.
“We reckon to state that your approach in this matter leaves a lot to be desired and a disappointment to the agencies,” said Kayuni.
He added: “No single state agency can win a fight against criminality, it is always a joint effort regardless of independent working arena. With the way ACB has conducted itself lately, it is clear that there was no cross-checking. Madam Director, our minds and acts are at cross-purpose here. ACB is on one side starting a matter on TPIN and other agencies are on the other side with an ongoing trial on the same TPIN.”
This lack of cooperation is also one of the issues that the Catholic Bishops have pointed out.
“Malawians expect the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Attorney General, the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) and the Fiscal Police to work together to serve the public interests when discharging their functions and obligations,” laments the Bishops.
One of Chizuma’s initial cry in the delays of the cases she is handling has been withholding of consent by the DPP, however, recently Parliament amended the Corrupt Practices Act giving her freedom to prosecute without consent. Despite such gesture from Parliament, which just adds on the unprecedented support that President Lazarus Chakwera has provided to the ACB, some Malawians are still sceptical that with Chizuma at the helm everything is a waste.
Leading human rights activist Undule Mwakasungula and social commentator Humphrey Mvula have boldly pointed out that everything can be done but in vain; the solution is for Chizuma to step down or get a chop from the appointing authorities, so that someone else should continue the fight with renewed zeal.
Now, that the Catholic Bishops have spoken and joined dissatisfied Malawians on Chizuma’s performance, the only way out is to agree with Mwakasungula and Mvula that the lady has to honourably leave the stage. It is apparent that the shoes are too big for her.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :