Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has described as careless and insensitive remarks by the Attorney General (AG) and Malawi Energy Regulatory Authoritys (MERA) board in defense of the newly-appointed acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ishmael Chioko who has charges bordering on cash-gate and power abuse.
Recently, MERA board chairperson Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe and Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale defended Chioko’s appointment saying that he is not guilty as he has not been convicted by any court.
Kaphale was quoted as saying that, “You dont want to freeze peoples lives simply because there are suspects. One has to be tried if he has a case and besides he is just acting.”
But in a statement signed by CHRR Executive Director Timothy Ntambo described the remarks an insult to Malawians and an assault to the integrity that goes with such senior public offices.
“While sympathetic to fact that anyone is deemed innocent until proven guilty, we at CHRR feel MERA board should have accorded Chiokos appointment a broader and holistic picture in light of the devastating cash-gate scandal the country is grappling with.
“When MERAs former CEO, Raphael Kamoto, was sent on forced leave to pave way for investigations into an alleged diversion of K3 billion from the Price Stabilisation Fund, the move was very progressive and welcome. But replacing him with one Chioko who is already in court answering Cashgate-related cases defeats the very essence of professional and moral integrity in appointing people to such positions. This is setting a bad precedence,” reads part of the statement.
Ntambo added thatthe move is not only professionally and morally unpardonable, but also sends wrong signals to Malawians and development partners out there on governments commitment on governments sincerity in ending cash-gate.
“In light of the foregoing, CHRR calls upon government to reverse Chiokos appointment till the case he is answering comes to a logical conclusion in a competent court of law,” said part of the release.
The statement underscores that integrity is integral to sustaining public trust in government, as espoused under Section 12 of the Constitution of Malawi and government to be championing integrity in public offices, rather than eroding it.