The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma had revealed to an entourage of Members of Parliament — led by Leader of Opposition, Kondwani Nankhumwa — that she ordered to kneel before police officers when recording a statement at Namitete Station.
Nankhumwa told Parliament that one female police officer attempted to assault her as they drove Namitete Station but was stopped by her colleagues.
He disclosed that during their midday break, he led the Opposition side as well as MPs from the government side to Chizuma’s residence where she told them that a multitude of armed police officers — in a SWAT-style invasion — surrounded her house at around 03:00hrs that woke up Chizuma’s maid.
He said the maid alerted her boss of the police presence, saying they wanted her to come out and as she delayed — in the perception of the police officers — the maid was ordered to tell Chizuma to hurry up or they would invade the privacy of her bedroom.
She told Nankhumwa’s entourage that when she came out, was told that she was under arrest and they were taking her to the police station.
Nankhumwa said the police went on to deny her access to her prescription eye glasses but forced her — still in her night attire — into one of the convoy cars they came in, in which the female police officer attempted to assault her.
At Namitete, Chizuma was further humiliated in front of other offenders who were in the cell when she was ordered to kneel down during that station’s usual morning roll-call schedule.
“While the Honourable Minister of Justice [Tutus Mvalo] told this House in the morning that Ms. Chizuma was released unconditionally, we were shown a police bail bond [that indicated her charges] and that she should report to the police on Monday.”
In a moving tone and body language, Nankhumwa said: “Events that have culminated into this issue today are sad in nature. If anything, I can say today is a sad day for democracy in the country.
“Today is another sad day for human rights in the country. I can go further to say that today is a sad day in as far as the fight against corruption is concerned.”
Nankhumwa was incredulous that while the nation was fighting against corruption, the government feigns ignorance by saying it is not aware of the events leading to Chizuma’s arrest.
He questioned that it was simply not believable that police officers could be deployed from National Headquarters at Area 30 in Lilongwe to arrest a high profile as Chizuma is without knowledge of government officials, nor the Inspector General of Police and even responsible Minister of security.
He also questioned that if the President himself was not aware — being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, then “how safe are we? Are we safe that someone can wake up in the morning and just decide to arrest any person they like?”
Nankhumwa also indicated that the events are very questionable in that the warrant of arrest was a court order, whose charge and bail should have come from the court itself — but what was issued to Chizuma was a police bail.
“Something is not adding up,” Nankhumwa said, while proposing that Chakwera — before he presides over the commemoration of World Corruption Day in Kasungu on Friday — he should first be summoned to Parliament to report and account on the events sorrounding the Chizuma fiasco.
“What has happened and is happening is a threat in the fight against corruption,” he said.
But Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara reminded the Leader of Opposition that he first should follow Standing Orders to move the Motion that Chakwera should appear before the House as demanded.
However, the government side rejected the Motion, saying that Tuesday was Government Day on Motions.
Before Nankhumwa spoke, Justice Minister Mvalo told the House that the government has unconditionally withdrawn charges levelled against Chizuma and also announced that President Chakwera has suspended Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Steven 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.
Meanwhile, Mvalo told local media that he is disappointed that despite his efforts to unify DPP Kayuni and Chizuma, there seem to be persistent hostility between the two.
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 local media — 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”.
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 now withdrawn.
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.