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And the fat lady sings?

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Finally on Tuesday, President Lazarus Chakwera decided to come out and act on ‘some’ of the recommendations by the Commission of Inquiry he had commissioned on the arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General Martha Chizuma. Most notably, the President decided to relieve one Steven Kayuni of his obligations as the country’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and in his place comes Masauko Chankakala, formerly head of the Legal Aid Bureau. Is this what Malawians were agitating for? Is it right that Kayuni now appears to be the only biggest casualty?

Whatever your answer to the above, it was about time Chakwera did something following the uproar that had accompanied the part and eventual full release of the report by the commission. There were about seven recommendations that were made in that report, some of which many, including yours truly, did not agree with as we felt the commission skirted around the real issue; that of Chizuma’s arrest.

As argued before, we seem to be a people too obsessed with commissions of inquiry and yet not many of such have delivered results to the expectations of Malawians. Many would still recall the inquiries on the death of Robert Chasowa and Evison Matafale (if my memory serves me right) whose findings were given a blind eye by the powers -that-be while for numerous others, they were simply handled as smokescreen and dress rehearsal activities, much to the distaste of Malawians. Here we are with the President finally acting on the findings.

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While he has outrightly sent Kayuni packing, what has left some people surprised is that he has spared Chizuma when in that report, the clause that talked about re-organising leadership made mention of the two offices; that of the DPP and at ACB. We know for a fact that the ACB chief has the whole public rallying behind her but the President should have said something sternly towards her direction or even show her the same tough love shown to Kayuni so that his office can be seen to be bringing sanity to the table, without fear or favour. But perhaps when one considers even the tone that came from the diplomatic community during the time of Chizuma arrest, a lot might have been at stake, hence we are better off leaving her to her toys.

As the President said, no one is above the Constitution of the land and, as such, every person is at liberty to drag the ACB boss to court where they feel aggrieved. From where I’m standing if I understand correctly, the only blemish was that one Steven Kayuni had used powers related to the office he was holding to file a personal complaint against Chizuma, hence his departure. But, then, is the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ kind of approach towards Chizuma’s office eventually going to help the country? Time is the best judge.

On the other hand, as observed by the Malawi Law Society, what the President has done to fire Kayuni could be tricky as it might be in violation of Section 102 of the Republican Constitution. We are yet to see how events unfold in light of this. And what becomes of the issue that forced the President to order Chizuma’s unconditional release, now that Kayuni has been relieved of his duties as the DPP? Will he be at liberty to pursue it?

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Again, while the tenant at House Number One was quick to axe the DPP, the same was not extended to those at Area 30 who were entangled in the matter at hand. He went on to lecture us all that though there might be no particular section that outrightly names him the Commander-in-Chief of the police service, there are provisions within the Constitution that grant him the power to be overseer of all State security agencies and as such he was within his right to order the folks at Area 30 to release Chizuma unconditionally, which the deputy IG had felt was not in line with the laws. Perhaps it is on that premise that Chakwera has taken a lenient view and committed the fate of the deputy IG to the police commission; otherwise, people expected heads to equally roll at Area 30. In fact, the public’s largest interest was on who masterminded the arrest in the first place in a manner that, we were told, not even the President, Minister of Homeland Security and the Minister of Justice were kept in the loop at a time the Inspector General of Police was away in Zambia. My expectation was that the President, whose office is where the buck stops, was going to resolve everything on this issue there and then (whether donors were watching or not, after all we are a sovereign state).

But then nobody knows whether this is the end of it all. We could be in for some interesting times ahead. Perhaps it is a matter of perfecting or setting straight that which a majority felt was found wanting in that report by the commission of enquiry. As they say, it is not over until the fat lady sings.

At the end of the day, the major lesson we must take from all this is that we must always keep a level head and, at all cost, avoid being trigger happy. No one is indispensable and no person should claim a monopoly of knowledge. Similarly, we should try our level best to act mature when we hold privileged public offices, least we end up bringing chaos or worse still, letting down those who put their trust in us.

On the other hand, as observed by the Malawi Law Society, what the President has done to fire Kayuni could be tricky as it might be in violation of section 102 of the country’s Constitution. We are yet to see how events will unfold in light of this.

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