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Graft fight gets nasty

Martha Chizuma

Patrick Mpaka

Anti-Corruption Bureau (DG) Director General Martha Chizuma has been implicated in a leaked audio clip, where she is purportedly discussing work-related matters with a person not employed by the bureau.

Malawians yesterday had a rude awakening when they discovered how deep-rooted corruption is in the country following the leakage of a conversation ostensibly between Chizuma and a person believed to be a government employee [name withheld].

But Chizuma could not pick up her phone when called several times or respond to several WhatsApp messages that were sent to her mobile phone seeking her comment on the leaked conversation.

However, a post on a Facebook page bearing her name reads: “Devil has always been a liar!”

Following the leakage of the 12-minute, 34 seconds-long audio clip, Malawians took to social media; with others throwing their weight behind Chizuma while others criticised her for being careless by discussing official business with cronies.

In the leaked audio, a voice purported to be that of Chizuma details how United Kingdom-based businessman Zuneth Sattar has allegedly bribed important people, including a High Court judge and lawyers.

The ACB is investigating Sattar on allegations that he gave bribes to government officials in order to be favoured in government contracts.

In the audio clip, a female figure is heard claiming that Sattar has, so far, spent about $10 million (about K8.5 billion) bribing officials to ensure safe passage in his dealings.

In the clip, the woman is also heard implicating a High Court judge for allegedly pocketing money from Sattar.

Again, the woman in the clip further confides in the man on the other side of the phone that she confides in Facebook enthusiasts who are outside the country, with whom discussions purportedly centres on how to address the corruption challenge in the country.

She is also heard talking about the type of support she gets from State President Lazarus Chakwera, hinting that a politician told her that she had lost the support of the State House as she was working towards bringing down the current administration.

She further said the informant told her that she would be fired soon.

The informant, according to the so-called Chizuma in the clip, told her to be looking at the political context instead of just fighting corruption.

ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala Sunday declined to comment on the matter.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) President Patrick Mpaka said, apart from having knowledge about the clip, they were yet to obtain further details and circumstances surrounding the release of the clip.

He, therefore, said he could not comment much on the issue as the subject covered some of the “broader points that we have already raised with [the] AG [Attorney General], ACB and the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions]”.

“MLS is proceeding cautiously on these issues because on 2nd Dec we issued a public statement on the subject matter; on 10 Jan we offered some public guidance on the issues and on 15 Jan we delivered a comprehensive write-up to the State authorities concerned and are now waiting for feedback within the timelines set by the law which runs up to 30 Jan,” Mpaka said.

On Thursday, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi appealed to Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima to ensure that the security of Chizuma was not compromised.

“We appeal to the Head of State Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima and all relevant State institutions and their heads to ensure the security of the ACB staff, especially the Director- General.

“No one should be pressurised, intimidated or influenced by threats or any other means in the carrying out of their work for the good of the country. We plead…that any of the investigations or cases which the ACB is dealing with are not in any way obstructed or influenced. Let no suspect, however wealthy or who their connections are, be shielded or protected provided that he or she is given proper recourse to the legal processes of the courts,” the bishops said this in a statement titled ‘A Call for A Relentless Fight’, dated January 19 2022.

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