Controversy surrounds appointment of new Malawi’s anti-graft body head

Dust is failing to settle at Malawi’s Ant-Corruption Bureau (ACB) despite the appointment by government of High Court Judge Rezine Mzikamanda as new director of the anti-graft body.

Local print media, quoting unnamed senior government authorities, reported that the Joyce Banda administration appointed Justice Mzikamanda last week to fill the vacant position left by Alexious Nampota.

Justice Mzikamanda is supposed to be interviewed and approved by Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliamentary before he assumes work.

Justice Mzikamanda: Appointed head of ACB

However, PAC maintains that it is not still aware of the existence of vacant position of director at ACB and the subsequent appointment of Justice Mzikamanda as the new head.

“In as far as I am concerned as chairperson of Public Appointments and Declaration of Assets Committee we don’t have an explanation as to whether so far we have a vacancy in ACB director’s position,” PAC Chairperson Nick Masebo said in reaction to the appointment of Justice Mzikamanda.

“Probably the coming of that name [Justice Mzikamanda] will be accompanied by an explanation that the position had fallen vacant. But as I speak our committee’s stand is that the position of ACB director is still intact,” he said.

The chairperson asserted that his committee still does not recognise the said vacancy government claims exists at the anti-graft institution because it has no official information.

“We are still waiting for official information from government as regards the claims of existence of ACB director’s vacant position,” he said.

Masebo said the committee was waiting with keen interest the outcome of the issue which is of the committee to make determination.

A few weeks ago, the committee rejected to confirm a name which was forwarded to it to head ACB after government reportedly flouted procedures in nominating the person.

Masebo said government needed to provide the committee with at least four names for it to interview and choose from who should head the body.

Government terminated the contract of the former ACB director, more than a year before its expiry, for alleged abuse of office just a few months after President Banda took over regime.

He was arrested and released on bail on allegations that he pocketed about K1.5 million in external travel allowances for a United Kingdom trip which he reportedly never undertook.

The former ACB head then sued for millions of kwacha the country’s Attorney General, Ralph Kasambara, and Chief Secretary to the Government, Bright Msaka, challenging their decision to terminate his services.

He also filed a suit against the Inspector General of Police Loti Dzonzi for summoning him to explain how he had been discharging his duties as ACB Director, which was contrary to Section 21(1) of the Corrupt Practices Act.

The absence of a director at ACB has halted a number of prosecutions by the body, a development which has not gone down well with most donor agencies like DFID who have been forced to withhold their funding to the bureau until a new director is put in place.

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