State drops charges against Chizuma
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Masauko Chamkakala has dropped all charges that were levelled against Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma.
Chamkakala has confirmed the development saying, the decision has been arrived at to ensure that the functionality of the ACB is not impeded.
“As DPP, I was appointed by the President to advance the Administration’s agenda for Justice in accordance with the rule of law, and His Excellency has always made it clear that part of that agenda is removing all impediments that stand in the path of institutions like the ACB.
“So after reviewing the case and after consulting the Attorney General, I decided to discontinue the criminal case against Ms Chizuma in line with the prescriptions of the Constitution and other relevant laws.
“I have formally communicated my decision to Ms Collen Zamba, the Secretary to the President and Cabinet so that her office can take appropriate steps in line with the Malawi Public Service Regulations regarding Ms Chizuma’s employment status,” Chamkakala said.
Last week, government interdicted Chizuma. In the letter of Chizuma’s interdiction dated January 31, 2023, Zamba said she had received a report of the Criminal Court Case sitting before the Chief Resident Magistrate in Lilongwe where Chizuma was answering criminal libel charges which she said constitute a serious misconduct.
According to Zamba, Chizuma was answering charges of making use of speech calculated to lower the authority of a person before whom a judicial proceeding is being had, contrary to Section 113 (d) of the Penal Code.
She said the second charge that Chizuma was with regards to making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings, contrary to Section 113 (d) of the Penal Code.
Zamba’s action came after former Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni and others dragged Chizuma to court over allegations she made in the audio recording. The interdiction led to MLS obtaining an injunction stopping the interdiction.
The State moved to challenge the injunction through private practice lawyers Chancy Gondwe and George Kadzipatike which it hired.
However, the State’s first challenge was dismissed by High Court Judge Mike Tembo who dismissed the injunction application on the grounds that it lacked merit and that it was misconceived.
But the State did not give up as on Wednesday it appealed the injunction at the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Justice John Katsala had set Monday, February 13, for hearing on the matter.
Chizuma’s interdiction brought condemnation from Malawi development partners including the American and British embassies. Local civil Society Organizations and other bodies also condemned government of frustrating the fight against corruption.
Reacting to the dropping of the charges, Chrispin Ngunde Honorary Secretary for Malawi Law Society (MLS) said they are happy with the decision made by DPP.
“This is a good decision by the DPP and the Attorney General. It shows that the DPP and the Attorney General appreciate the importance of ensuring that the independence of the ACB is guaranteed at all times.
“We hope that the decision to interdict the ACB Director will also be revisited so that the Director General of ACB can go back to business without worrying about any other distractions,” Ngunde said.
And Executive Director for Centre for Social Accountability & Transparency (Csat) Willy Kambwandira has also expressed delight for the decision.
“This is a way to go. Otherwise it is disheartening, and a dangerous situation to see the executive including the President himself been hypocritical in his fight against corruption.
“We also hope the new DPP will work well with the ACB Director and the Judiciary,” Kambwandira said.