Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Reyneck Matemba has been appointed as the country’s Solicitor General and Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Justice.
Matemba, whose tenure of office expired early this month, confirmed the development Wednesday.
He said he shall continue working at the bureau until January 2021 to ensure there are proper handovers with his successor.
“We, at ACB, work as a team; we do not work in isolation. So, [due to] the fact that we work as a team, I believe in the people that are there. In any event, I still have to make sure that there is smooth transition. I do not want my departure to create a vacuum at ACB. So, [until] part of January, I will still be working at ACB. I do not want to create a gap because the work we do at ACB is quite crucial,” he said.
While he did not want to comment much on his departure, Matemba said he wished he could conclude high-profile cases such as the Thom Mpinganjira bribery case, among others.
“Those cases that I can manage to finish, I will. This is because I do not want to create a gap for the one who is coming,” he said.
Current laws vest powers of appointment of ACB Director General in the President, subject to confirmation by members of the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament.
In his reaction, Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Gift Trapence said the challenge for his departure is that he is leaving at a time ACB has so many cases to investigate and prosecute.
Trapence said he fears that filling the gap might also take time.
“HRDC believes that ACB is an institution and will continue the work. On the other hand HRDC expectation is that a new director will be recruited in good time to sustain the progress that has been made in the fight against corruption. HRDC is expecting the new director to be professional and independent. During the time of DPP government, ACB work was heavily affected due to political pressure and this compromised the work of ACB,” he said.
National Anti- Corruption Alliance Chairperson Moses Mkandawire, who also heads the Livingstonia Synod governance arm called Church and Society, described Matemba as a “fearless man” who tackled corruption with zeal.
Mkandawire said Matemba would leave a big gap, in terms of knowledge and skills, in the way corruption cases should be handled.
“Matemba is a fearless man who has been taking up cases individually in the courts, which is unlike other directors before. The second thing is that the momentum we are in would have been much appreciated if it were sustained. The mere fact that he is leaving the office now, and then bringing in a new individual, means he has to start all over, hence it would have been appreciated if Matemba’s contract were renewed for the next three years or so; he could then go back to the Ministry of Justice,” he said.
Matemba once worked for the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, where he served as assistant chief legislative counsel, administrator general and also worked at Legal Aid Bureau.
He was then appointed by former president Joyce Banda to be deputy director of ACB in 2013 and was mainly responsible for prosecutions.
He played the lead role in the prosecution of several Cashgate cases.
Matemba was then appointed director of the graft-busting body in 2017 when the then State president Peter Mutharika replaced Lucas Kondowe with the outgoing director general.