‘Lazarus Chakwera did not sanction Martha Chizuma’s interdiction’
The State House has said President Lazarus Chakwera did not sanction or endorse the interdiction of Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma by Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba.
On January 31 this year, Zamba interdicted Chizuma, who was then facing criminal libel charges in court, before she was reinstated after the charges were dropped.
Briefing reporters in Lilongwe Wednesday, State House Director of Communications Sean Kampondeni said Chizuma’s indictment came from Zamba in her capacity as Head of the Civil Service.
Kampondeni said Zamba only applied Civil Service Regulations on what happens to civil servants answering criminal charges and that that does not require the endorsement of the President.
He said Civil Service Regulations clearly stipulate that public officers answering criminal charges must be interdicted, regardless of who they are and what positions they hold.
“The regulations apply to all people working in government regardless of what job you do. It even applies to me. No one is an exception,” Kampondeni said.
The Malawi Law Society (MLS) had earlier faulted Zamba’s interdiction of Chizuma, saying the interdiction letter was issued without considering issues such as jurisdiction and independence of the bureau.
MLS President Patrick Mpaka argued that the only authority that could interdict Chizuma was the President.
“Due to the need for independence of the office of the ACB DG, [which is] under Section 4(3) of the Corrupt Practices Act, in Section 6(2) and (3), [the law] provides that the power to suspend or remove the ACB DG is in the President and the only reason is that it must be desirable in the public interest so to do.
“The letter in circulation does not make reference to the Act nor the reason under the Act. It should be doubtful if it has been authorised by the only authority that can suspend the ACB DG because, ordinarily, the President should know that the situation is well guided by the Corrupt Practices Act and I think the President understands this, if you listened to his speech of 24 January 2022,” Mpaka said.
According to Kampondeni, Chakwera believes that misunderstandings are bound to be there among people but that that does not necessarily mean that the other people are corrupt just because they hold a different view to those of the ACB chief.
Kampondeni said following the misunderstanding, Chakwera summoned all people involved, including Zamba, Chizuma, Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, Director of Public Prosecutions Masauko Chamkakala and Justice Minister Titus Mvalo and the misunderstandings were resolved amicably.
Meanwhile, Kampondeni has said Chakwera leaves the country today for Doha, Qatar, where he will chair the Least Development Countries summit.
According to Kampondeni, Chakwera will return to Malawi on March 14.
During the meeting, Chakwera will also hand over the LDC chairmanship.