Law professor Danwood Chirwa has backed Martha Chizuma, saying she will likely turn the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) into a powerful force against corruption if confirmed as ACB director general.
He was reacting to the Public Appointments Committee’s (PAC) rejection of Chizuma as ACB boss.
According to Chirwa, forces of corruption, both within and outside government, in political and business circles, have ganged together to block Chizuma’s appointment.
“We all know why. There are too many files stowed away in those haunted ACB lockers, going back more than two decades, from the Bakili and Mutharika eras to the Joyce Banda and current alliance govt, that stand to be reviewed by the fiercely independent Chizuma. This, understandably, has caused the vast network of criminal elements in the country to ramp up efforts to keep the ACB limp.
“But their mistake is to assume that once the corrupt PAC blocks the appointment, there would be murmurs of dissatisfaction and all would be forgotten in a few days. They have precedent to point to which shows that this has happened before with no consequences,” said Chirwa.
He argued that the issue is about justice and fairness to the candidate who submitted herself to the time-consuming and emotionally draining process of applying and getting interviewing for the job.
Chirwa added that the issue is also about the defence of excellence and merit as well as the continuing marginalisation of women with records of excellence since PAC has blocked at least three such women on dubious grounds.
The professor then urged civil society and the general republic to reject PAC’s decision through protests and legal action.
“PAC has a duty to accord fairness to Chizuma including acting rationally and without prejudice. The appointment of the ACB Director is a matter of public interest. Civil society organisations would easily show that it has standing in such an action. PAC must be restrained from considering any other candidate until the courts decide on the Chizuma appointment,” he said.
However, lawyer Ralph Kasambara has thrown his weight behind PAC saying the committee did not break any law and cannot be bullied into changing its decision.
He also attacked Chizuma saying through her reports in her current role as Ombudsman she appears to be politically inclined to victimise one sect of the population.
He said: “And come next week there will be a “flurry of Judicial review cases” challenging her Reports, findings and recommendations. And mark me those cases will succeed.
“And that perception alone for me disqualifies her for that job of Director of Anti-Corruption Bureau. That job demands maturity and impartiality.”