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Minister rues DPP, ACB fight

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Steven Kayuni

Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo says the continued battle of supremacy between Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni and Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director-General Martha Chizuma is frustrating the fight against corruption in the country.

Mvalo Sunday called a meeting with the two but it failed as Chizuma was reportedly already in Blantyre for the national anti-corruption conference at the time she got communication of the proposed meeting.

Mvalo, however, said it was frustrating that two of his key people in the fight against corruption are pulling in different directions in what is supposed to be one united fight.

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“It is a very disappointing development because they are supposed to be pulling in the same direction to achieve the national goal of fighting crime, especially corruption.

“It is something that I, myself, am not happy with. I met them before but I will meet them again and see if we can find a permanent solution to this,” Mvalo said.

He suggested that he would be able to meet the two officers during the time they are in Blantyre for the conference which will also be graced by President Lazarus Chakwera.

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While some observers have been accusing the Tonse Alliance administration for apparently not doing enough to fight corruption in the country, Mvalo maintained the zeal and determination are there and in strong measures.

“To me, it is about personal egos. We have two people with egos. In Chichewa, timati kukulirana mtima. It is a personality clash. It has nothing to do with government’s resolve to fight corruption,” the minister said.

Our attempts to get a comment from Kayuni on the minister’s sentiments were unsuccessful as his phone went unanswered when we called him.

On the other hand, Chizuma declined to comment on the proposed meeting and her relationship with the DPP and referred us back to the minister who had called for the meeting.

Meanwhile, Chairperson for the National Anti- Corruption Alliance, Moses Mkandawire, has shared Mvalo’s frustrations, saying the two officers need to be working together in fighting corruption.

Mkandawire said in the current set-up of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA), ACB operates under the DPP and that that is the case in several other countries.

“I don’t think we should be looking at an individual Steven Kayuni or an individual Martha Chizuma. The two should just look at how the law is, respect each other and coordinate because criminal prosecution is not that simple.

“The other thing for me is that they should not work at the whims of politicians. When such egos are coming out, one may be manipulated in the process or there is a perception already that one is being manipulated.

“If the minister is frustrated; everybody is frustrated and what needs to happen is dialogue, otherwise we will start asking one or both of them to be relieved of their duties,” he said.

The bad blood between the DPP and the ACB came to light at Kayuni had refused to grant the bureau consent to prosecute a case involving corruption suspect Zuneth Sattar’s agent Ashok Nair.

In his withholding of the consent, Kayuni indicated that the report with which ACB had sought the consent did not have sufficient details on which the DPP could base his decision.

From that time, the two have seemingly not been working in harmony with communication from their officers further showing the amplification of their rift.

Some commentators have suggested that ACB should be given prosecutorial powers through amending the CPA.

Last week Parliament passed motion so that a Private Members’ Bill could be introduced in which the amendment would be captured.

“We would like to attain prosecutorial efficiency of the ACB so that it is able to prosecute its cases with speed. We do not want the case where they are being slowed down by the provision that they have to get consent from the DPP,” Member of Parliament for Likoma Islands, Ashems Songwe, said.

He had introduced the motion which was later supported by others including his counterpart for Chikwawa North Owen Chomanika who indicated that for a country that loses 30 percent of its resources to corruption, there is a need for an independent ACB.

In his comment, Chairperson for the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, Peter Dimba, said his committee noted that section 42 of the CPA has been abused over the years and that people have been hiding behind it to frustrate the fight against corruption.

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