Debate over Anti-Corruption Bureau arrest warrants
By Deogratias Mmana & Rebecca Chimjeka
A legal expert and human rights activist have expressed divergent views on what happens to warrants of arrest suspended Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma obtained for former Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni and Senior Assistant Chief State advocate Dzikondiathu Malunda.
The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Court issued the warrants of arrest on Tuesday.
The court in Lilongwe confirmed issuing the warrants of arrest.
However, Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba issued an interdiction letter to Chizuma, dated February 1 2023, barely a day after the court issued the warrants on January 31 2023.
The decision to interdict the ACB chief has attracted mixed reactions, with the Malawi Law Society describing the letter as “misguided”.
Asked about the impact of Chizuma’s interdiction on the warrants of arrest for the two officials, University of Malawi constitutional law expert Garton Kamchedzera said the only logical thing to do is to execute the warrants of arrest.
“Warrants of arrest are issued by the court. If these have been issued by a court, they must be implemented,” he said.
Meanwhile, Citizens for Justice and Equity leaders told reporters at a news conference in Lilongwe yesterday that they were in support of Chizuma’s interdiction.
They asked President Lazarus Chakwera not to interfere with the process.
The organisation’s vice chairperson Alfred Munika also urged the President not to interfere in cases involving a leaked audio in which Chizuma allegedly discusses issues related to corruption with an unknown person.
“Let the wheels of justice prevail,” Munika said.
The ACB obtained the warrants of arrest for the two officials from the Ministry of Justice on allegations of fraud and abuse of office.
According to the warrant, count one is misuse of public office, in line with Section 25 B(1) and (4) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
Count two pertains to fraud and breach of trust by a public officer, in line with Section 120 of the Penal Code.
Particulars on the warrant are that: “Steven William Kayuni while serving as a public officer being the Director of Public Prosecutions on or about the 11th of June 2021 while in transit in Kenya abused his office by arbitrarily directing Sky Links Travel to change his travel destination on an air ticket from being Vienna, Austria, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, costing the Malawi Government a sum of MK7,498,197.00 for his personal benefit.”
The warrant, addressed to the director of the ACB, says: “You are hereby directed to arrest the said Steven William Kayuni and to produce him before this court in execution of this warrant. And herein fail not. Given under my hand and seal of the court this 31st day of January.”
Malunda is charged with similar offences.
Under the first charge, he is alleged to have directed Sky Links Travel to change his destination on an air ticket from being Vienna, Austria, to Johannesburg, South Africa, costing the government K1,984,038.00 for his personal benefit.
“You are hereby directed to arrest the said Dzikondianthu Joseph Malunda and to produce him before this court in execution of this warrant. And herein fail not,” the warrant reads.
Chizuma did not respond to our questionnaire, in which we wanted to get her reaction to the issue of interdiction.
The Ministry of Justice did not respond to our questionnaire on the warrants of arrest for its senior officers.