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Questions over Chizuma inquiry

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Some observers have cast doubt on the impact of the Commission of Inquiry that President Lazarus Chakwera has instituted to look into the controversial arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director-General Martha Chizuma.

But Minister of Information Gospel Kazako has defended the President’s decision, saying the findings of the inquiry will help in getting to the bottom of the drama.

Chizuma was picked by the police from her home in Lilongwe in the wee hours of Tuesday before she was reportedly whisked away to Namitete Police Station on the western outskirts of the capital city.

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National police spokesperson Peter Kalaya said the cops had acted on a complaint by Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni who felt injured by allegations made by the ACB chief in a leaked audio recording.

Particulars of the case, which was later withdrawn by government, included that Chizuma made speech that was capable of prejudicing Kayuni by stating that he was corrupt and compromised.

Executive Director of Church and Society of Blantyre Synod of CCAP Reverend Master Jumbe argues that getting facts about Chizuma’s arrest was supposed to be a straightforward project not warranting a commission of inquiry.

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Jumbe further argues that the inquiry is just government’s gimmick to be seen to be doing something about Chizuma’s ordeal after the public backlash.

He also doubts if Chakwera will act on the findings of the commission of inquiry. “There are past commissions’ reports that are under wraps to this day.

Government is just trying to appear as if they are concerned about Chizuma’s arrest. “Additionally, there can never be an objective inquiry when some top government officials involved are still in office.

If the commission is to produce a credible report, ministers of Justice and Homeland Security and the Inspector General of Police must resign or be suspended first,” Jumbe said.

He further claimed that no officer would be free to provide information or evidence against their bosses when the bosses are still holding their positions.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Gift Trapence also doubts if the findings of the commission will be taken seriously by the government itself.

“We hope the recommendations for this commission inquiry will be implemented and taken seriously. We have had so many commissions of inquiry where their recommendations have never been implemented,” Trapence said.

But Kazako insisted the work of the commission of inquiry is important as far as getting answers regarding the arrest is concerned.

“Every commission of inquiry is standalone. The terms of reference are different. The utility intentions of every commission of inquiry differ as the issues are not the same,” Kazako said.

He added: “This is a commission of inquiry instituted by the State President using the provisions in the Constitution. The President will direct the way forward after receiving the findings.”

Chizuma’s arrest drew widespread criticism with some donors also weighing in and stating the act bordered on intimidation.

Civil society organisations such as the National Anti-Corruption Alliance and opposition Members of Parliament also censured government over the incident, saying the ACB boss needed protection and not intimidation.

In the leaked audio, whose contents reportedly injured Kayuni, Chizuma voiced out her frustrations in the fight against corruption which she said was facing resistance from multiple fronts.

There have been calls that the person who recorded the phone call should be held accountable for committing criminal offences in the act.

However, authorities have not paid any attention to the “recorder”.

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