Opposition members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday argued that the appointment of Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General and Deputy Director General by the President needs to be reviewed so that instead, the Public Appointments Committee (Pac) should do the job.
The current Corrupt Practices Act states that the President shall, on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit, appoint ACB bosses, a thing which the MPs argue is irregular.
The issue of the appointments was first raised in the House by MP for Lilongwe South West Peter Chakhwantha through a motion which sought to amend Section 5(1) of the Corrupt Practices Act so that Pac should appoint the two ACB top officials on merit.
Through the motion, Chakhwantha, who is also Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee, argued that the recruitment process should be open and that the Director should be reporting and answerable to Parliament through Pac.
Argued Chakhwantha: “ACB cannot effectively deal with people who misappropriated public funds if they are the holders of public offices who appointed them… Ever since the ACB came into being in this country, we’ve heard a lot of corruption cases which are never completed. It is the case of biting the hand that feeds you.”
He added that the theft of public funds, which is now dubbed Cashgate, is not being properly prosecuted, especially on individuals who are connected to the appointment of the ACB bosses.
MP for Lilongwe Mapuyu South, Joseph Njobvuyalema, seconded Chakhwantha’s motion and went further to charge that the provision that talks about the President appointing the ACB directors is a mockery to its independence.
Then intense disagreements ensued between the government and opposition sides to the point that Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu, argued that the amendment that motion sought was non-implementable.
But MP for Nkhata Bay Central, Ralph Mhone—a lawyer by profession—argued that each President hires and fires ACB directors willy-nilly because he has such powers and described the motion as apt. He said: “In fact, the next office we should be looking at [regarding independence] is that of Auditor General”.
When a motion to curtail debate was put forward, there was division and voting resulted in the opposition winning with 75 votes to 67 for the government side while 51 MPs were absent.
Meanwhile, Chakhwantha is expected to come up with an Amendment Bill to amend Section 5 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
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