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Opposition demands Martha Chizuma charge withdrawal forms

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Richard Chimwendo Banda

By Mathews Kasanda & Richard Chirombo:

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Titus Mvalo was Wednesday nowhere to be seen in Parliament for him to show documented evidence that the government has withdrawn charges against Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma.

Legislators demanded to see charge withdrawal documents, wondering why documents were not presented to the august House despite the minister’s promise on Wednesday that he would do so on Wednesday.

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It all started with Thyolo Central Member of Parliament Ben Phiri asking Mvalo to bring to the House documents authenticating his claims that Chizuma would face no charges.

He said, according to what he gathered from lawyers, Chizuma’s warrant of arrest was issued by a court of law; as such, there is a need for lawmakers to see court discharge papers.

“We, therefore, want the government to bring the papers because that is what we agreed yesterday,” Phiri said.

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Before tea break, Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda acknowledged that the minister promised to bring to the House the document but was quick to say Mvalo did not specify the time.

Later in the day, Banda told the legislators that the minister failed to show up in Parliament because he was away, attending an event presided over by President Lazarus Chakwera and his counterpart from Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, in Mchinji District.

The House’s leader added that justice ministers from Malawi and Zambia attended the event to sign agreement forms.

“The event involves two presidents and the Minister of Justice in Malawi and the Minister of Justice in Zambia are part of the signing ceremony… I promise that he will be in the House tomorrow,” he said.

In a related development, the Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission (EPJC) of the Evangelical Association of Malawi has condemned “in the strongest terms possible the arrest of the ACB Director General, Ms. Martha Chizuma”, faulting the manner of the arrest.

“We are tempted to conclude that it was not just an arrest, but an action intent on breaking the resolve of both the ACB Director General and the President in the fight against corruption. All facts so far point to this conclusion unless proven otherwise. Our main concern is that it does appear that the State machinery has been used to bring about an arrest of the ACB Director as if she is some fugitive, who has been on the run after committing a heinous crime,” the statement which Reverend Zacc Kawalala, EPJC Chairperson, has signed reads.

He urges the government to expedite the process of coming to the bottom of the issue.

Chizuma was arrested at her home in Lilongwe on Tuesday, a development that attracted citizens’ ire.

According to a police statement, her arrest followed a complaint from the Director of Public Prosecutions, Steven Kayuni, that he was injured by allegations the ACB boss made in an audio clip that was leaked in January this year.

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