The arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma is raising many questions as President Lazarus Chakwera declares that he had no knowledge that the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Steven Kayuni had ordered the arrest and has since said he would set an inquiry into the saga.
Meanwhile, Minister of Justice, Titus Mvalo has announced of the unconditional withdraw of charges levelled against Chizuma and also told Parliament that President Chakwera has also suspended Kayuni pending further inquiry into the arrest.
A commission of inquiry composed of several individuals including former Inspector General of Police, Lot Dzonzi and others has since been instituted.
The arrest coincided with a meeting that Chakwera had for this morning at Kamuzu Palace with chairperson and members of the National Integrity Committee; Deputy Secretary to the President and Cabinet and Chizuma with all officials from the ACB.
Following her arrest, the President still met the delegation and Chizuma was represented by her deputy, where the Head of State stated that Chizuma was to be a leading member of the committee he hosted but “was arrested under mysterious circumstances”.
“Although I welcome the reports that she has been released, I have every intention of seeing that an inquiry into her arrest is conducted and any wrongdoers who have abused their office in this incident are held accountable.
“We must maintain our resolve and send a message to those who think they can intimidate us into submission and slow us down in our fight for a corruption-free Malawi. And that message is simple: We are not afraid and we will not stop fighting.”
Mvalo is quoted as saying following a presidential directive some months ago to bring Chizuma, Kayuni and the Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda to one table, there seemed to be some improved working relationship.
But, the minister is quoted as saying, the arrest shows that the officers were “just pretending that all is ok” when in actual fact there are undercurrents.
“In fact I didn’t know about this arrest. Last night I had a discussion with ACB director on an event that is taking place this Friday only to hear that she has been arrested today” Mvalo told local media — while describing the infighting as a clash of egos which has nothing to do with any political party or government.
In his address to the committee he hosted, Chakwera said he was happy to receive their progress report on the commitments that each of the pillars undertook to implement during the 20 weeks anti-corruption campaign.
“We all know that complete eradication of corruption in our society is an enormous task which requires bravery, patriotism and 100% commitment,” he said.
“This is why it is very encouraging to see that the National Integrity Committee has utilized the campaign period to the maximum by implementing the commitments that have brought out a high level of awareness on the evils of corruption on all sectors of our society.
“I have noted that the Executive Pillar is on track with the development of the National Action Plan to re-instate Malawi’s active status in the Open Government Partnership.
“I am also happy to note that we now have a draft manual for lifestyle audit of public officers which would be submitted to cabinet soon.
It is also pleasing to note that the Legislature Pillar has managed to sensitize all staff and members of parliament on corruption and are on track to develop a code of conduct for parliamentarians.
“Let me also commend all non-state pillars namely, the media, civil society, faith-based organizations, women and youth — for making strides in achieving their commitments.
I should also mention the achievements by the Local Government Pillar, Academia Pillar and Judiciary Pillar, who have done well in bringing awareness of the evils of corruption through the various initiatives undertaken during this period.
“Let me also recognize the efforts done by the traditional leaders pillar, particularly the bringing together of all paramount chiefs, to take a lead in the fight against corruption within their jurisdiction, this is quite commendable.
“Your efforts and commitment in the fight against corruption should not end as the 20 weeks anti-corruption campaign is coming to an end. Rather it should continue because corruption does not take a holiday from destroying our national heritage.”
For arresting Chizuma, Kayuni alleges that he was injured by contents of a leaked audio clip made by the ACB Director in January this year — a case linked to breach of her Oath of Office when she divulged corruption investigation matters to a third party in January this year.
But this was an offence which President Lazarus Chakwera — who was under pressure by the public to fire Chizuma — forgave and retained her, saying it was because she is “a person of great courage in the fight against corruption”.
Chizuma was first released on bail and charged for making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings — charges which Mvalo has withdrawn.
Meanwhile, government spokesperson Gospel Kazako has also condemned the arrest, saying in a statement that while government welcomes reports of her release, it is concerned with lack of information from the Police regarding the reasons and manner in which the arrest was effected.
Kazako further states that government feels the action undermines the progress President Chakwera’s government is making to thwart the vice of corruption.
Chizuma was arrested in a SWAT-style invasion of her home in the wee hours of today, Tuesday, December 6 and was taken to Namitete Police Station in the outskirts of Lilongwe.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :