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Malawi Law Society faults Lazarus Chakwera

Says Steven Kayuni made unsound decision

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MPAKA— This may be an interesting situation

President Lazarus Chakwera Wednesday spared Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma but fired Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni.

However, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) has faulted grounds for which the President has made his decision to fire Kayuni.

But the United States (US) has hailed the President’s decision.

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Wednesday, Chakwera fired Kayuni over what the Malawi leader described as Kayuni’s unsound judgement in the arrest of Chizuma in December last year.

Briefing Malawians in a televised address Wednesday morning, Chakwera said he has since replaced Kayuni with Legal Aid Bureau Director Masauko Chamkakala.

Chakwera also stood by his decision to forgive Chizuma over the issue of leaked audio in which she is heard discussing office matters with an unidentified male colleague.

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“So I want to make this clear today: I stand by my decision to not fire Ms Chizuma a year ago and I stand by my choice of her as my champion against corruption today, but I have never said that this means that no one else is allowed to bring a case against her for their own injuries— because that would be unconstitutional,” Chakwera said.

The Malawi leader has since instructed Inspector General (IG) of Police Merlyne Yolamu to report the conduct of Deputy Police IG for Administration Happy Mkandawire and Deputy IG for Operations Casper Chalera to the Malawi Police Service Commission over what he calls insubordination.

According to Chakwera, Mkandawire ignored a presidential directive relayed to him through Justice Minister Titus Mvalo to release Chizuma unconditionally, describing it as unlawful.

However, MLS Wednesday observed that unsound judgement in the management of personal grievances, on which Chakwera has based his decision to fire Kayuni, does not constitute incompetence.

MLS President Patrick Mpaka said if Kayuni accepts the position taken by Chakwera, then it is fine.

“If he does not, this may be an interesting situation because unsound judgement in the management of a personal grievance, which is the cited basis for removal, may not necessarily entail incompetence or compromise in exercise of duties of the office which are the constitutional grounds for removal from office of DPP in terms of Section 102(2) of the Constitution of Malawi,” he said.

The section in question stipulates that:

  1. The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions shall become vacant after the person holding that office has served five years or on his or her resignation or retirement, whichever is sooner:

Provided that the person holding that office may be appointed for such further terms, not exceeding five years, as the President considers appropriate.

  1. A person holding the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions may be removed from the office by the President before the expiration of his or her term of office, if the President is satisfied that the person holding that office—
  2. is incompetent in the exercise of his or her duties;
  3. is compromised in the exercise of his or her duties to the extent that his or her ability to exercise his or her functions impartially is in serious question;
  4. is otherwise incapacitated; or
  5. has attained the age prescribed for retirement.

Mpaka said: “So, a lot depends on what is it that the President and the removed director discussed at the meeting the President has referred to in his speech.”

Meanwhile, the US Embassy Wednesday applauded Chakwera’s speech, citing his administration’s commitment to fighting corruption

“We welcome the President’s important steps taken today to strengthen this fight. The United States will continue to support these efforts to help Malawi achieve its development goals,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Gift Trapence also commended Chakwera for maintaining Chizuma as ACB chief.

“HRDC is happy that the President acknowledged the lack of cooperation and coordination amongst agencies in the fight against corruption. HRDC, therefore, calls for real commitment beyond the Presidential speech to see to it that government agencies are able to work together and also that the ACB office is supported fully in its operations,” he said.

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