Public Appointments Committee (PAC) chairperson, Joyce Chitsulo, has said it is a tad baffling that people in the country—including the well-learned with impeccable records of social standing—have shifted the blame on the rejection of Martha Chizuma as Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general on her saying she was not the sole scorer.
Speaking on behalf of the committee on Saturday during an Exclusive Interview on Times Television monitored by Nyasa Times, Chitsulo said “the rejection of [Martha] Chizuma was normal.”
She said prior to Chizuma’s interview for confirmation, “PAC followed all the prerequisites” as prescribed in by law.
“It is not as if we we just wake up and call for an interview for confirmation and reject somebody. It is a process. A letter came from the Ministry of Justice through the Clerk of Parliament that [Martha] Chizuma had been appointed by the President, I summoned my committee members so we could arrange for a date for the confirmation interview.
“The date that was agreed upon was May 11, and we thus communicated to the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) that Chizuma should be aware. So, it is not as if the Committee works in isolation. There is a different lot of personnel and departments that are involved and all these are guided by the Corrupt Practices Act,” said Chitsulo.
Sounding and looking confident throughout the interview Chitsulo said Malawians needed to have it at the back of their minds that they used “the scoring procedure and not the voting one in the rejection of Chizuma.”
The Mwanza West Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentarian said since it was not the voting procedure a median of total scores divided by the total number of members present was arrived at which was 14.9—268 total scores divided by 18.
According to parliamentary Standing Orders that guide the committee, an interviewee must at least score 17 and thus it meant Chizuma failed the confirmation interview.
“Actually, I was also shocked personally that she had failed; so, I asked members from both the opposition and government to re-check the scores and it was 14.9 again. After guidance and advice from our legal counsel, as chair of the committee I had to go ahead and announce the rejection of Chizuma.
“So, as Malawians will see, there was no need for a tier following the method we had engaged in the rejection of Chizuma. It was simply scores divided by the number of members present. It keeps on surprising me that some people are saying I am responsible for her rejection. No. In fact, as a woman I wanted her so much in that position just like I was happy when this very committee had confirmed her as ombudsman and renewed her contract not long ago,” said Chitsulo.
‘Childish committee members’
Chitsulo rejected foul play in the rejection of Chizuma, and denied that PAC had received hand-outs amounting to K8 million from some business moguls and politicians in the country so they could not let Chizuma pass the confirmation interview.
“I have already told you that the Committee is composed of politicians and members are chosen by their parties. On what happened I cannot speak on behalf of each member, but I can speak on behalf of the Committee; and I am proud that since I was elected chair we have done everything according to the law including the rejection of Chizuma,” she said.
Chitsulo said much as she was aware that “Malawians have confidence in Martha Chizuma,” the citizenry needed to understand that there was no way the country could begin running as a banana republic.
She, then, chided some members of the committee who had taken pictures of their score sheets and shared them on social media saying that was “dishonourable.”
Simeon Salambula, a UTM legislator, shared his score sheet on his Facebook and distanced himself from the rejection of Chizuma, a development which resulted in commentators blaming the rejection on former ruling DPP.
Chitsulo said Salambula had let down the Committee and the Parliament, and that she was liaising with the Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara, that the member be “adequately disciplined.”
She said it was wrong for Malawians to think as such as there was no party that had enough members to enable a majority score at the time.
“No one should blame the other on this one. It was a collective decision by the Committee and there should be no blame-shifting. Every member should shoulder the responsibility,” said Chitsulo.
Meanwhile, PAC is expected to present a report to Parliament on Tuesday to explain reasons on why the Committee had rejected Chizuma—a qualified law professional with an impeccable track record as ombusdman.
Militant Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has planned a march on the same day—May 18—to have Chizuma’s name re-submitted and re-interviewed for confirmation.
And, writing on his Facebook wall on Sunday, media influencer Stanley Onjezani Kenani said much as Chitsulo “spoke well” during the interview, he wondered whether the Committee had been “open, accountable and transparent” since the scoring was done in secret.
Section 12(iii) of the Constitution reads: “The authority to exercise power of State is conditional upon the sustained trust of the people of Malawi and that trust can only be maintained through open, accountable and transparent Government and informed democratic choice.”
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