Corruption Fight: Don’t take Malawians on Kamikaze mission against donors, Nankhumwa tells President Chakwera
There is no clear direction on the fight against corruption in Malawi and that instead of fighting corruption, President Lazarus Chakwera’s government has been fighting Martha Chizuma, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Malawi’s opposition leader Kondwani Nankhumwa told Parliament on Monday.
Nankhumwa was officially responding to the State of the Nation Address (SONA), which President Chakwera had presented earlier last Friday, February 17, 2023.
“Before he came to power, President [Lazarus] Chakwera placed the fight against corruption as a centrepiece of their campaign. It was one of the cornerstones of the Chakwera Hi-5.
“Among other things, he said he would safeguard the integrity of the ACB, including removing appointing powers for ACB Director from the President.
“Barely three years down the line, all that talk has remained just that. Talk. In fact President Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance panel have turned out to be the biggest stumbling blocks in the fight against corruption through their very action,” said Nankhumwa amidst heavy interjecting from the government benches.
The opposition leader claimed that the President’s position in the larger scheme of the whole fight is that of “a very dishonest man who cannot be trusted”. He cited “the persecution of ACB Director, Chizuma as “a very good example to sum up what I am talking about”.
“Madam Speaker, in January 2022, President Chakwera said he knows that the ‘forces of darkness’ that recorded Martha Chizuma and deliberately leaked the audio so that she is found culpable and removed from her position. He said he would not yield to such devilish wishes. He said he was standing behind the ACB Director and that he had forgiven her for whatever transgressions she may have committed.
“I was sceptical, and I said it from the onset that this was all part of a larger scheme to remove Ms Chizuma and that President Chakwera was actually the Godfather of the whole plot. Fast track to December 2022, over 20 police officers arrested Ms. Martha Chizuma in a dawn raid like they were arresting a dangerous drug Lord. They did not allow her to put on proper clothing and drove her 50 kilometres away before locking her up, and leaving her traumatized.
“This was the lowest moment in the fight against corruption in Malawi, and so unprecedented.
“The President said he did not know anything. He quickly set up a Commission of Inquiry to establish circumstances surrounding the arrest, including finding out who actually ordered it.
“Mysteriously, the President tweaked with the terms of reference for the Commission. It ended up with findings that were far removed from the questions that Malawians were asking. Up to now, Malawians still don’t know who actually ordered the arrest of Martha Chizuma.
“Madam Speaker, I know this may look like ‘The Godfather’ movie but it is actually what this government calls the fight against corruption. When President Chakwera’s own Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Ms Colleen Zamba, interdicted Ms Chizuma last month it is when we knew who was behind the plot to remove her from her position. President Lazarus Chakwera,” he said, adding that the President did not say anything about the interdiction of Ms Chizuma and has still has not said anything up to now, “as usual preferring to work behind the scenes like he does not know anything”.
What is sad about the whole fiasco is to fight Ms Chizuma through the court process, including “sponsoring” CSOs to bad mouth and fight donors for simply speaking out against the persecution of the ACB Director.
“We have now heard of words such as ‘Malawi is a sovereign state’ coming from the government telling donors due to their critical stance on corruption. Is President Lazarus Chakwera Serious? Is he sure he wants to take Malawians on a Kamikaze mission to fight donors? On this, I can bet my last penny that Malawians do not want to sink with him. Let the President go alone on that road”.
The US, British, Norwegian and European Union envoys in Lilongwe recently strongly condemned moves by senior government officials to prosecute and suspend the ACB Director. All charges levelled against her have since been dropped and the interdiction letter withdrawn. She is now back in office.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :