Malawi suspends Anti Corruption Chief Martha Chizuma over controversial leaked audio
The government has interdicted Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma following the criminal court case that is to be heard against her at Lilongwe Magistrate Court regarding the leaked audio that went viral in January last year.
An interdiction order which Secretary to the President & Cabinet, Colleen Zamba has issued — dated January 31 — says this is due to two counts that Chizuma is due to answer in court, whose first count is: “making use of speech calculated to lower the authority of a person before whom a judicial proceeding is being had — contrary to Section 113(d) of the Penal Code”.
The second is “making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings— contrary to Section 113(d) of the Penal Code”.
Zamba says the allegations constitute serious misconduct of a public officer and an ACB official in terms of section 49B of the Corrupt Practices (Amendment) Act 2004; Anti-Corruption Bureau Standing Order Numbers D/18 )2) and D/18 (9); Sections 4 (4.5); 6 (6.1); 6 (6.3) and 14 (14.1) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Behaviour of the ACB; Malawi Public Service Regulations 1:201 (6); 1:201 (11); 1:201 (17) and 1:201 (19); and Contract Clause Articles I and II of Chizuma’s employment contract of June 1, 2021.
“In view of this, and in accordance with the Malawi Public Service Commission Regulation 42 (3) as read with Regulation 40, you are interdicted from exercising the powers and functions of your office as Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (Grade 1/C) effective 31 January 2023, with full pay.
“While in interdiction, you shall cease to exercise any powers and functions in the Public Service and you shall not leave Malawi without written permission from the office,” said the letter, while emphasizing that the interdiction order shall remain in force until the conclusion of her criminal proceedings.
It has been copied to Secretary for Human Resource Management & Development; Secretary for Civil Service Commission; the Auditor General; the Accountant General and Solicitor General & Secretary for Justice.
Chizuma was arrested last December over the same issue under instructions from the then Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Steve Kayuni, who was subject of the discussion in the leaked audio but President Lazarus Chakwera ordered that the charges be dropped.
The President later instituted a Commission of Inquiry to investigate circumstances that led to her arrest, whose findings were present to him.
On January 18, Chakwera said he still considered Chizuma as his champion against corruption — thus stood by his decision made a year ago by refusing to bow down to calls from several quarters of the society to fire her.
In his address to the nation, Chakwera took note that the Commission of Inquiry he constituted to probe circumstances that led to her irregular arrest in December, also recommended that some action ought to be taken regarding offences Chizuma may have committed in last year’s leaked audio.
In that leaked audio, Chizuma is heard divulging some classified information on corruption investigations involving suspect Zuneth Sattar but since he had already dealt with this as an administrative matter when she forgave her last year, Chakwera sought clarification from the Commission on how they found the leaked audio to be relevant to her attack on December 6.
“It was explained to me that because the complaint the Police acted on to arrest Ms. Chizuma was centred on the audio, and since the Courts have already ruled that anyone injured by that audio has a right to file a complaint to the police, then obstructing anyone injured by that audio from exercising their individual right to file a legal complaint and seek court relief not only leaves those injuries unaddressed, but also leaves Ms. Chizuma at risk of unjust attacks from those injured parties and leaves her credibility in the eyes of other agencies the ACB needs support from compromised.
“So I want to make this clear today: I stand by my decision to not fire Ms. Chizuma a year ago and I stand by my choice of her as my champion against corruption today, but I have never said that this means that no one else is allowed to bring a case against her for their own injuries, because that would be unconstitutional.
“In this country, everyone has the constitutional right to bring a case against anyone, and when they do, the accused have the right to defend themselves in a court of law, where they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“Even Ms. Chizuma herself has the constitutional right to file a police complaint against the person who recorded her against her wishes, if she so decides, in which case the law would take its course. That is our justice system. That is the rule of law.
“And as President, I swore an oath to defend and uphold the Constitutional rights of all Malawians, and so I would never obstruct any citizen from seeking court relief for injuries they suffered, even from something I myself have forgiven.
“But what I will obstruct is any person seeking to use the powers of their position in a public institution to assault another just to settle personal scores. That, I can’t allow,” he said and went further to fire Kayuni as the DPP.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :