Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director-General Martha Chizuma has disclosed that people from both the opposition and the government sides are accusing her of targeting them in the bureau’s fight against corruption.
But, while she could not specifically mention names of those who have made the accusations in blatant terms, the ACB chief said she recently received a mobile phone message from someone linked to the current administration who accused her of focussing more on current corruption cases than those of the past.
Chizuma appeared before the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises Committee of Parliament last week to respond to queries including those to do with procurement delays.
A member of the committee, from former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), had sought her reaction to accusations that she is biased in the way she discharges her duties.
In an interview after the meeting, Chizuma maintained ACB goes after whoever it suspects must have been involved in corruption without looking at whether they are in government or not.
“I get hit either way. But I think at the end of the day, what I have learnt is that you win with the comfort that is deep down your heart; that you have done the right thing. That is what should keep you going and I believe that we are doing the right thing,” the ACB boss explained.
The National Anti-corruption Alliance has sided with Chizuma, saying fighting corruption does not depend on party colours or whether someone is in government.
The alliance’s chairperson, Moses Mkandawire, said all those caught up in corruption should be disciplined according to the law regardless of their positions.
Mkandawire has since urged people holding public positions at every level to perform their functions with integrity to avoid being part of corruption.
“If you did not execute your functions with integrity, then definitely the law will have to catch up with you. So, whether you are out of the system today or you are currently in the system today, I don’t think that should be an issue,” Mkandawire said.
ACB has so far arrested several top government officials in the current administration, including ministers, now former, who are answering corruption charges.
The bureau has also brought before the court former top government officials from the DPP administration who are accused of engaging in corrupt practices.
During the meeting with the lawmakers, the committee also wanted to know if ACB was responsible in any way for delayed procurements in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The committee’s chairperson Isaac Kaneka expressed satisfaction with ACB’s explanation, which pushed the blame on to Procurement and Disposal Entities (PDEs) in the MDAs.
Several stakeholders have complained about protracted delays in public procurement processes, with some projects being at risk of not materialising.
Some of the contracts under the Global Fund are aimed at serving Malawians but could have their funds withdrawn if delays persisted.
The fund’s officials are reported to have recently visited the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority where they indicated that their programmes or contracts have timelines and procurement delays would simply block them from meeting such timelines.
While citing several challenges for procurement delays, PPDA also pointed at the lack of qualified procurement officers in the PDEs.
PPDA Board Member Sam Chimang’anga told journalists after the meeting, that there were several interventions that the authority was implementing, including the digitalisation of its internal processes to improve efficiency.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.