Human rights organisations have said the arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma yesterday was a deliberate attempt by some invisible forces to frustrate and incapacitate her thereby rendering the ACB incompetent of discharging its full mandate under the Constitution and the Corrupt Practices Act.
The organisations, which include NGO Gender Coordinating Network, Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Youth and Society and Centre for Civil Society, said this in a statement issued at a press briefing in Lilongwe.
Speaking at the presser, Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe said they strongly believe that Chizuma’s arrest is directly linked to her uncompromising stance and fight against corruption in the country.
“We know that this is a deliberate attempt by some invisible forces to frustrate and incapacitate her thereby rendering the ACB incompetent of discharging its full mandate under the Constitution and the Corrupt Practices Act. We also know that government has been hesitant to take further steps against a person alleged to have leaked the audio which is the basis for her arrest of Madam Chizuma. We, therefore, call upon government authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against her,” said Kondowe.
He added that there is need for authorities to fully implement their international obligations to promote, protect and fulfil the right to dignity and other related human rights, including the right to freedom of expression.
He further said that government should conduct a full, transparent and impartial investigation into the alleged ill-treatment and harassment of Chizuma and to bring culprits to justice.
“Government should expeditiously update the public on the status of the investigations into the person who leaked the audio of Madam Chizuma and take effective measures to protect Madam Chizuma and to ensure that she conducts her work without hindrance or interference,” explained Kondowe.
Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo announced in Parliament yesterday the unconditional withdrawal of charges levelled against Chizuma.
Mvalo also told Parliament that President Lazarus Chakwera has also suspended the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Steven Kayuni, pending further inquiry into the arrest of Chizuma.
A commission of inquiry composed of several individuals including former Inspector General of police, Loti Dzonzi and others has since been instituted.