Six days after rejecting Ombudsman Martha Chizuma as new Anti-Corruption Bureau Director-General (DG), the Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament yesterday yielded to mounting external pressure and confirmed her as the country’s graft-bursting chief.
Unlike last Tuesday, when Pac members subjected Chizuma to an interview, the committee approved her name by a simple voice vote.
Out of the 13 members who voted, 12 nodded to Chizuma while one abstained. Before the vote, four Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers— namely Victor Musowa, Masauko White, Chikondi Makande, and Mary Navicha— walked out of the interview room in protest against the use of the voice vote.
“I can confirm that we have confirmed Martha Chizuma as the new Director-General of ACB,” Pac Chairperson Joyce Chitsulo told The Daily Times yesterday.
Chitsulo said, initially, Monday’s meeting was designed for committee members to adopt a report on last week’s interviews of Chizuma before presenting it to Parliament today.
She said, in the course of the meeting, Dowa North East lawmaker Sam Kawale moved a motion for the committee to rescind its decision on rejecting Chizuma, a development which paved the way for Pac members to vote again on the matter.
Chitsulo said, during Monday’s voting, members were expected to say yes if they wanted Chizuma and no if they did not want her as the new ACB boss.
Speaking on behalf of the MPs who walked out of the meeting room, Musowa said they stormed out not because they were against the confirmation of Chizuma but that they felt that procedures were flouted.
Musowa said, since the matter was now in the whole House of Parliament, it was only procedural that Pac submits a report to the whole House as demanded by the motion which Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda moved last Wednesday.
He said the move to rescind the decision on Chizuma should have come from the main house and not the committee.
Meanwhile, government spokesperson Gospel Kazako has hailed Pac for rescinding its earlier decision to reject Chizuma.
Kazako said the Tonse Alliance-led administration was committed to ensuring that it ends corruption in the country, adding that Malawi needed a strong person to champion the fight against the vice.
National Anti- Corruption Alliance Chairperson Moses Mkandawire said it was pleasing that Pac had confirmed Chizuma.
“Let us all support her so that corruption becomes a thing of the past. We, as a country, have suffered a lot due to corruption and we cannot let that continue,” Mkandawire said.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Gift Trapence has called off a scheduled demonstration which was designed to force Pac to confirm Chizuma.
President Lazarus Chakwera last week expressed disappointment with Pac following its decision to reject Chizuma as ACB boss.
Speaking after appearing before Pac last week, Chizuma said she would use ACB to make Malawians uncomfortable with corruption.
“I would like to see Malawians getting uncomfortable with corruption,” Chizuma said.