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The joys of illusions

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If there is a person who has become an overnight celebrity in Malawi, then it is Martha Chizuma. It is evident that the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has the support not only of euphoric masses, but also that of the international community.

Recently, she was arrested in a very humiliating manner after the then Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni sued her for defamation over a leaked audio in which Chizuma was too careless with her words.

A lot has followed that arrest, including threats from donors and the dismissal of Kayuni from his office.

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It is interesting reading the events around this issue. Just to shed a little background light, the audio that opened this can of worms was leaked at a time when Chizuma was in the thick of things around Zuneth Sattar’s alleged corrupt dealings.

This is regarded as one of the most crucial corruption cases in the country and all eyes are on the authorities to see how it pans out.

With such cases, one would understand why some sectors of society would rally behind Chizuma.

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So, when she was arrested in the small hours of the morning, even President Lazarus Chakwera had to jump out of his bed to condemn the arrest.

The United States embassy, the United Kingdom, and other Western powers also added pressure to those persecuting the ACB boss.

In the end, a commission of inquiry was formed and came up with a report that condemned the manner of the arrest and the conduct of both Chizuma and Kayuni as professionals.

What is interesting is that, after all the noise, only Kayuni has been fired from his post for failing to make sound judgement befitting a man of his position.

The fact that Chizuma herself failed to make sound judgement in divulging sensitive information to some man in the audio clip has been downplayed through several attempts to bend the narrative.

The fallacy is that any accusations that point to Chizuma are just negative efforts by those opposing the fight against corruption.

As such, there has not been a serious probe into the actions and integrity of the head of the bureau. The fact that she rides on the back of our benefactors makes any attempts at mentioning her name in negative light blasphemous.

But as citizens of this country, we ought to be more critical on these issues. Nobody can dispute that Chizuma has gained people’s trust and popularity as a champion against corruption.

No person in their right mind can convincingly argue that there are no negative forces against corruption in this country. We know that it is corruption that feeds most of those people we admire when they pass us by in the potholes we call roads.

But the question we must ask is: Is Chizuma indeed our only solution? Is the system doing the right things in fighting corruption, and are we really satisfied with the progress made so far?

If you ask me, we have not done enough to fight corruption and Chizuma has not proved herself nonexpendable.

It is true that she is sitting on a big case, but her bureau needs to be more agile in its approach. Also, we must not mistake an individual for their office when we are talking about these issues.

What we need is a functioning and competent ACB, and not a single individual. The fact that some people think that losing Chizuma may entail a loss in the fight against corruption only goes to show that we do not have the right structures and systems in place.

The government and all the donors making noise out there must make sure that they help in building the capacity of ACB to the point that all workers in that institution can be trusted to do the right thing.

The battle against graft in a country like ours goes beyond the abilities of a single individual. Malawians must wake up and realise that we are not winning the fight against corruption — we only have illusions of victory, with nothing tangible to show for it.

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