Livingstonia Synod, US Embassy join fierce condemnation of Chizuma’s arrest and harassment 

The Church & Society Program (CSO) of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia says it is appalled of the arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), saying although being released and charges dropped, it was ill timed and sends a very negative signal to the fight against corruption.

While the US Embassy also condemns that the arrest was made “in middle of the night and pulled her out of her house in undignified manner; taken to a police station 48 kilometers outside of the capital — escorted by a large group of heavily armed personnel”.

US Ambassador David Young met with Chizuma to convey his solidarity with her

“These actions are highly irregular,” says the statement released by Public Diplomacy Section of the US Embassy. “We are encouraged by the steps taken by the Government of Malawi to withdraw all charges against DG Chizuma, suspend the Director of Public Prosecutions and form a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter.”

The Embassy, reminds the authorities that in the lead up to International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9, “we note that one year ago this week, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken announced Chizuma as an Anti-Corruption Champion — one of 12 honorees globally”.

“This was in recognition of not only her great courage in standing up against corruption in her professional capacity, but of the institutions and structures in Malawi that make investigation, prosecution and conviction of those guilty of corruption possible.

Suspended DPP Dr Steve Kayuni

“The fight against corruption in Malawi is not about one individual but about all the people who work in the accountability institutions, and the work of the ACB goes on. We commend and applaud the steadfast courage and commit of the ACB team.”

Meanwhile, US Ambassador David Young met with Chizuma this afternoon to convey his solidarity with her and the ACB in support for Malawi’s ongoing fight against corruption.

The statement from the CSP — signed by executive director, Rev. M.A.T Mulagha and Rev. William Tembo of CCAP Synod of Livingstonia — says it is appalled of the arrest, adding that “it is apparent that some quarters within government setup are bent on frustrating Ms Chizuma’s efforts to fight against the vice”.

“Furthermore, it is disheartening to learn that the leadership of key government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are feigning ignorance of circumstances leading to her arrest.

“This begs the question of who is in control of these MDAs. One wonders if there is any synergy between and among MDAs in the execution of their duties.

“Most importantly, the turn of events demonstrate total lapse of upward and downward accountability within the MDAs, and this is recipe for chaos which is manifesting now.”

In conclusion, the CSP publicly state that it is standing with Chizuma, President Lazarus Chakwera and all Malawians “that detest and genuinely fight against corruption”.

Earlier in the day, All-African Council of Churches (AACC) — through Ambassador for Economic Justice and Accountability, Rev. Baxton Maulidi of the CCAP, has expressed concern over the timing of the arrest of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma — saying it has coincided with the European Union (EU) delegation’s visit to Malawi.

Rev. Maulidi says the EU delegation is to consider the provision of financial support to the country and one of the factors for consideration is the way Malawi is managing the operations of its governance institutions like the ACB.

Maulidi said much as his role doesn’t want to interfere in the work of the arms of government, he feels such actions will undermine whatever efforts the country has made in the fight against corruption.

Meanwhile, reports coming in indicate Minister of Justice, Titus Mvalo distancing the government on the actions of the police — acting under instructions of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni — saying the Ministry will identify and put all the police officers involved in her arrest as third parties so that in case Chizuma sues for wrongful arrest, they will personally foot her legal compensation and bills.

Minister Mvalo also told Parliament that the government has unconditionally withdrawn charges levelled against Chizuma and also announced that President Chakwera has suspended Kayuni who ordered the arrest Kayuni — pending further inquiry into the arrest.

A commission of inquiry composed of Justice Edward Twea as chairperson, Habiba Osman, Bonface Thawale, Mercy Chijere and former Inspector General of Police, Lot Dzonzi has since been instituted.

Mvalo told local media that he was disappointed that despite his efforts to unify DPP Kayuni and Chizuma, there seem to be persistent hostility between the two, 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.

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 NationOnline — while describing the infighting as a clash of egos which has nothing to do with any political party or government.

“But with what has happened today we must find a solution to end this fight. It doesn’t help. We need these offices to work together.”

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”.

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