PAC’s Chizuma rebuff faces public wrath

“Malawi is indeed the warm heart of corruption.”

A surreptitious underground plan to torpedo Chizuma’s appointment as Anti-Corruption (ACB) director was hatched by parliamentarians the moment her name popped up as the people’s favourite candidate.

Nyasa Times investigations reveal that there is a a group of people fighting Chakwera’s quest for zero tolerance on corruption and theft of public funds.

Chizuma’s protracted rejection is not an accident, it was planned and from day one to prevent the ‘iron lady’ from taking over the reigns of power at the corruption-fighting organisation.

Chizuma is “tenacious person” especially on things she is very passionate  about, such as justice and fairness.

“Allowing that woman (Martha Chizuma) to be in charge of ACB is allowing many of us mortgage our lives to jail. that lady is too stubborn. No politician is clean achimwene. Even if her name is resubmitted, they will still reject her appointment because everyone, especially within the political echelons, is afraid to the bone,” confided an MP who is PAC in confidence and preferred not to be identified.

Added the MP: “President Chakwera is a very good man with very good intentions for the country just as his vice, Saulos Chilima but the people around him are in it for personal gains. Until the president, toughens up his stance, not on the lips, but in action, these vultures will continue to plunder public funds at every opportunity that comes their way.

“Just look at the way they chewed the K6.2 billion Covid-19 response funds and look at how elusive they are behaving about the additional K17.2 billion. President Chakwera needs to act, and fast. There are a lot thieves around him who must be dealt with if the journey to Canaan will be anything to be accomplished.

There is a movement, a choir of disapproval in the public sphere spurred by Parliament’s dubious decision to reject one of the country’s brightest and formidable legal mind and hands-on-the-deck industrious and results-oriented Ombudsman, Martha Chizuma as Malawi’s head of graft-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament led by Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) Mwanza West constituency parliamentarian, Joyce Chitsulo has ruffled the general public’s feathers after throwing ‘the legal bulldozer,’ Martha Chizuma, the people’s favourite, choice who had convincingly emerged tops during job interviews after beating 10 other equally capable men, throw her under a running bus.

Following Chizuma’s rejection as ACB director, there is an avalanche of public anger among Malawians against PAC’s scheming and dubious decision to block the lady who is seemingly poised to clean the country of graft and public officers’ systematic gluttony.

Since being appointed as the Ombudsman, Chizuma who has been nicknamed ‘the legal bulldozer’ has been has been sending chills in the spines of the those on the other side of the fence of the law.

Information minister and government mouthpiece, Gospel Kazako says he is disappointed by the development and described Chizuma’s rejection as confirmation that corruption is deep-rooted in the country.

Kazako said: “We are not going to get emotional about this (Chizuma’s rejection) and would not relent in the fight against the vice.

“Anybody caught on the wrong side of the law, as president Chakwera has persistently say, will go to jail. The time of protecting criminals is long gone, dead and buried. In this new Chakwera dispensation, you do a crime, be sure to do your time in jail,” added Kazako.

‘Sad day’

Former Director of Public Public Prosecution Ishmael Wadi weighed in on matter, he said: “Parliamentarians exercise duties in representative capacity and if they act contrary to public interest and expectation we have have the right to make them accountable to the decision they have made.

Wadi said it is an open secret that Martha Chizuma is the person the country needs to spearhead leadership to achieve the objectives of Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Said Wadi: “Her capabilities are impeccable and her suitability for the position is unquestionable. Let the president resubmit her name for reconsideration.

“Let us stand with Martha Chizuma for administrative justice and demand a decision of the Committee based on merit and not prejudice or fear. This is our time to speak loud and denounce apparent prejudice in decision making by PAC.”

Geneva-based social justice and human rights advocate Stanley Onjezani Kenani, said: “Today is the sad day for the battle against corruption. We got wind long before her appointment was announced that there was an underground plan to torpedo her appointment.

on her part, Malawi Human Rights Commission executive secretary, Habiba Osman said there is an invisible hand of patriarch written all over the Chizuma’s rejection saga.

Said Osman: “Malawi is indeed the warm heart of corruption.”

Cardiff based Malawian renowned investigative Journalist, Bright Sonani reacting to Chizuma’s rejection, he said:

“I believe the language should not be ‘ she has failed’ rather, PAC has rejected her. Martha Chizuma already passed the technical interviews.

Business mogul and motivational speaker, Henry Kachaje said: “Imagine setting up a panel of rats to vote on whether to bring a cat in the house.”

However, reacting to Kachaje’s post, former justice minister and former attorney general, Kasambara cautioned Kachaje to exercise the freedom of expression with responsibility.

“To say the least, this is contempt of Parliament. And I am certain this found its way onto Facebook in the heat of the moment.

He further claimed that Parliamentarians deserve respect and that they voted according to their conscience after objectively assessing her performance.

Kasambara said there is a good reason reason why the framers of our Constitution chose to have separation of powers amongst the three branches of government which include; The executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.

“Our Constitution endows them with independence in their execution of duties. That independence is only real when the occupants of those institutions are not intimidated threatened or enticed with some favours,” said Kasambara.

Kasambara said of late he has observed that some judges have been attacked on the decisions they make.

“Hear me correctly it’s one thing to attack the decision and it’s another to attack the person.

“Again, today we see read or hear about certain parliamentarians being attacked or bad mouthed because of the way they rated ACB director nominee, said Kasambara.”

In both cases, Kasambara further explained, there are remedies provided by the constitution to deal with judges and MPs that fail to carry out their bible duties. Attacking or threatening them are not part of the solutions.

Member of Parliament for Mangochi South West Justin Majawa has claimed that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is not against the appointment of Martha Chizuma as the new Anti-Corruption Bureau boss.

“Make no mistake. The scheme to reject Chizuma is not an opposition project or DPP scheme, this is all Tonse Alliance MPs trajectory. These people know that if Chizuma is confirmed then there will be hell in paradise.”

“Don’t blame DPP or UDF for this mess. This is a criminal activity aiming at blocking the wheels of justice from moving forward,” he said.

He alleges that it is Tonse Alliance Members of Parliament who are not interested in confirming Ombudsman Chizuma.

He says DPP only has a representation of five MPs in Public Appointment Committee of Parliament while the majority members of PAC are from the Tonse Alliance.

During Tuesday’s interview, a total of 18 out of 21 members of Pac were available and, after aggregating the rating, it transpired that Chizuma scored 14.9 out of 25. The minimum pass rate is 17 scores.

It transpired that, out of the 18 members that participated in the interview, nine scored her 25 out of 25 while the remaining nine scored Chizuma one out of 25.

Chizuma was appointed ACB Director General by President Chakwera following her success in interviews she had and waited for PAC confirmation.

She was appointed Ombudsman in 2015 and has recently made headlines following her bravery and steadfastness in fighting against corruption in the country.

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