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Pac rubbishes Attorney General

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Joyce Chitsulo

By Deogratias Mmana:

The Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament has said it will proceed with its planned meetings today with former acting chief executive officer for National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) Hellen Buluma and Board Chairperson Colleen Zamba despite legal advice from the Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda stopping the summons.

In his communication, dated November 21 2022 and addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nyirenda said Pac does not have powers over Nocma employees because they are not confirmed by Pac, unlike the case with institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau, where the director general is confirmed by Pac members.

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Other institutions that take the ACB root include the Financial Intelligence Authority and Directorate of Public Prosecutions, where the director’s approval hinges on Pac members’ nod.

“Pac cannot arrogate to itself powers that it does not have under the Constitution, the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act or the Standing Orders,” Nyirenda’s communication reads.

He, however, noted that Pac has some jurisdiction over some persons employed in the public service.

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“Pac may have jurisdiction over persons employed in the public service, as defined under the Public Service Act. Employments by Nocma do not fall under the purview of Pac for it to exercise powers of providing checks and balances to the Executive Board of Government.

“It is also important to ensure that the exercise of powers by various committees of Parliament should be backed by relevant statutory provisions considering that proceedings before the Assembly or a committee are deemed judicial proceedings for certain purposes,” he said.

Asked to authenticate contents of the letter, Nyirenda said: “You want me to sign the letter?”

However, Pac Chairperson Joyce Chitsulo said Tuesday that the committee will proceed with the scheduled meetings.

She said “yes” when asked if the committee will proceed with the meetings.

“I have not received it [the AG’s letter] officially. After all, it is a document, which is not signed, [that is] circulating on social media,” Chitsulo said.

Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye confirmed that the Speaker has received Nyirenda’s letter.

Asked for the direction the Speaker gave on the AG’s advice, Mwenye said the Speaker was busy Tuesday.

“We have received the communication. The Speaker was tied up. That’s all I can say,” Mwenye said.

In an interview, Buluma said she had not received any contrary communication from Parliament after the AG’s communication to the Speaker.

Pac has summoned Buluma to provide evidence contained in her resignation letter, which included an allegation that Zamba and others put pressure on her to bring new oil suppliers through dubious means and, in some instances, expensive fuel financiers.

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