By Deogratias Mmana, Taonga Sabola, Jameson Chauluka & Audrey Kapalamula:
The government Tuesday suspended Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni with immediate effect pending an inquiry into the arrest of Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Martha Chizuma.
Justice Minister Titus Mvalo announced news of the suspension during Parliament deliberations after a heated debate had ensued over Chizuma’s arrest, with opposition legislators demanding answers from the government.
Mvalo said President Lazarus Chakwera has also instituted a commission of inquiry, comprising five people, to look into the matter.
“The inquiry will look into issues which include who called for the arrest, who reported against Madam Chizuma and what was the allegation and why was she treated the way she was and why was she taken to Namitete Police Station? We want to get to the bottom of this as well as the issue of why I [as Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister] as well as the Minister of Homeland Security were not informed,” he said.
Earlier, the august House was suspended three times when the opposition bench pressed for a report on the Chizuma issue before tackling any government business as per the Order Paper.
This was after Mvalo had reported his ignorance on the matter, further indicating that the government as a whole was in the dark on the issue.
Mangochi South Member of Parliament (MP) Lilian Patel, along with other opposition lawmakers, expressed frustration with the manner in which police arrested Chizuma when police could have just summoned her.
“When someone is asleep, you sleep anyhow. They have arrested people previously but they [the people] were arrested in a proper manner. Is it because she is a woman?” she asked.
However, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa said Mvalo’s statement was akin to window dressing, claiming his statements on withdrawal of the charges were contradictory because Chizuma could still be required by police to report for bail next week.
“Let the President come and tell us if this happened without his knowledge,” he said.
Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda said Chakwera would only appear in the chamber when relevant standing orders have been followed, which includes making sure that questions are available.
Chizuma was arrested in the wee hours of Tuesday and taken to Namitete Police Station, where she was charged with making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person who is party to judicial proceedings.