Chakwera strikes the cord: Dissolves Cabinet and vows to keep Martha Chizuma at ACB

State President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has dissolved his entire Cabinet effectively heeding an advice from the leadership of Public Affairs Committee (MEC), governance and human rights experts and the Catholic Bishops in Malawi who called for the reshuffle.

Chakwera, who has just finished making his national address this evening, said the reshuffle is with immediate effect, adding the reconfigured Cabinet will be in place in two days.

He said he has done this to demonstrate his resolve to confront all forms of lawless conduct by public officials.

President Chakwera addressing the Nation

“That reconfigured Cabinet will exclude the current Minister of Lands (Kezzie Msuskwa), to allow him to answer the corruption charges he is facing in court and clear his name there. This is a decision I have made following yesterday’s submission to me of an official ACB report on the charges the Minister is facing, which is the same process I followed when I dismissed two Ministers in the past,” he said.

Chakwera said he has also directed the Minister of Justice to inform the Attorney General that he does not support the offer of amnesty to those who defrauded Government and the Malawian people.

He argued that although the idea of an amnesty was a campaign promise enshrined in their Tonse Alliance manifesto, as a way of speedily recovering government’s stolen assets, it cannot be effected without a clear legislative framework that allows it to be implemented lawfully and without appearing soft on corruption.

The President said he has since instructed the Minister of Justice to review the policy and work with the Attorney General in designing a sound alternative for recovering Malawi’s stolen treasures.

Turning to the embarrassment he has suffered following the leakage of the recorded phone conversation ACB Director General (DG), Martha Chizuma, had Anderson Mwakyelu, Chakwera said he has chosen to retain Chizuma for the sake of the nation.

The President said he believes Chizuma still remains the right person to partner him in his struggle against graft.

Chakwera said he was aware that the recording sparked public debate about whether or not Chizuma had breached her Oath of Office, whether or not she has compromised the credibility of the Bureau and the security of its investigations, whether or not she has violated the same Corrupt Practices Act she was appointed to enforce, whether or not she has defamed the judge of an independent court, and whether or not she has discredited the Clergy and Civil Society.

He said he considered that to be healthy because Chizuma’s conduct, or the conduct of any public servant in a public office, is neither infallible nor beyond scrutiny nor above the law.

“Now since the conduct of any ACB Director is regulated by law, there are several legal minds who have told me that the audio recording contains information justifying Ms. Chizuma’s removal as Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau on the grounds of misconduct in terms of Section 6B (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act, 2019.

“But upon consideration of multiple factors, I have determined that the best thing to do in this instance is to keep a watchful eye on her general conduct of the Bureau’s affairs in order to ensure that there are no other incidents of concern about her fitness for office going forward. As such, I have given her a stern warning about what the law demands and what I expect from her as the person I appointed to that office,” said Chakwera.

He added that as much as Chizuma’s conduct in this unfortunate incident has been disappointing, he still has trust in her capabilities.

“I must therefore confess that because of how vested I am in the fight against corruption, listening to some of the remarks Ms. Chizuma makes on that recording was painful. But because I took an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and pledged to work only in the best interest of Malawian, I have chosen to put Malawi first,” said Chakwera.

“I appointed her because I considered her to be a person of great courage, the kind of courage needed to take on dangerous cartels of corruption that have milked our country dry for decades, including foreign ones that donate to us the crumbs leftover from the bread they steal from us. I appointed her because I considered her to be a person of great integrity, the kind of integrity needed to resist every inducement that would be thrown her way to compromise her.

“I appointed her because I considered her to be a member of the team of warriors for justice I have been building to serve Malawians. This is what I believed about Ms. Chizuma at that time, and this is what I believe about her today.

“And ever since I appointed her, I have found her to be a strong partner in fulfilling the promise of Ending Corruption that I made to Malawians, which is the fourth pillar of my SUPER Hi5 agenda.

“I believe that it is because of her resolve to fight corruption that corruption has fought back and used someone she trusted to betray her and expose both her and me to embarrassment.

“I therefore want those evil forces that recorded her to know that neither I nor Ms. Chizuma are moved by their efforts to derail my agenda to rid Malawi of corruption. If you thought that making this recording would force me to fire her, you better think again.

“And if you thought that you can use Ms. Chizuma’s work or improper comments on that audio to attack me and get me out of the way, you better think again. You may have gotten to the ACB Director this time, but you can never get to all of us who are fighting this fight in different parts of the government. We will never retreat and we will never relent. As Martha Chizuma says on that audio, Nkhondo iyiyi ndi ya tonse, ndipo tiwina,” he said.

In his quick reaction, renowned governance and human rights expert, Undule Mwakasungula, said the dissolution of the Cabinet is a welcome development and pleasing to Malawians.

Mwakasungula said Chakwera has demonstrated that he is a listening President.

“I believe he will put up a cabinet that will help him revive our struggling economy and move Malawi forward in peace and unity. I am also happy also that he has put his support on the ACB Director Martha Chizuma whom I believe is under attack by those who want to run away from being  prosecution on corruption,” he said.

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