Commission of inquiry recommends action against Chizuma over audio clip

The Commission of Inquiry into the arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma has told President Lazarus Chakwera to take action against Chizuma over her leaked audio.

The commission led by retired Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Edward Twea presented its findings and recommendations to the president yesterday after conducting an inquiry into the arrest of Chizuma which happened on December 6 following a complaint by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni.

Last night, secretary to the president and cabinet Colleen Zamba released the findings and the recommendations to the public.

According to the document, the commission of inquiry found that there is reasonable grounds to suspect that Chizuma committed offences and demonstrated lack of judgement in her leaked audio.

“The commission recommends that appropriate action be taken to deal with the conduct of the DG of the ACB in so far as the leaked is concerned,” reads part of the report.

The commission also faulted the conduct of ACB employees who leak information to the public which negatively affect the operations and integrity of the institution

“The commission recommends that employees that unlawfully disclose information must be investigated and disciplined,” reads part of the report.

Chizuma’s ACB is further faulted in the report for entering into an agreement with National Crimes Agency of the UK without following procedures.

The inquiry report further says that there is evidence that the ACB  under Chizuma is working in isolation in the fight against corruption. The report recommends that  the ACB should rebuild and reinforce partnerships with other law enforcement agencies.

According to the commission, the leaked audio shows that Chizuma does not trust anyone including the judiciary, media, civil society as well as private and public officers.

“The commission deduced that [Chizuma] displayed a sense of being isolated. However, it was also evident that in her commitment to fight against corruption, she has not been able to carry along the critical offices that she needs to fight corruption. Consequently, she appears to be working alone and the fight against corruption has been compromised,” reads part of the report.

Chakwera yesterday said he will in due course make orders following the recommendations of the commission of inquiry.

Meanwhile, social commentator Onjezani Kenani has described the commission of inquiry as useless saying it was being used as a weapon to defeat the fight against corruption.

“Looks like the Commission of Inquiry was instituted as a kangaroo court to find a way of crucifying the Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Its terms of reference appear to have had very little to do with the arrest. These guys have always been looking for creative ways for dismissing her. So, most likely the whole arrest and assembling of the Commission was planned as a long strategic game for easing her out. Maybe finally they will get their wish,” Kenani posted on his Facebook wall.

Chizuma on 22 January 2022 had a private phone conversation with Anderson Mwakyelu in which they discussed ACB cases and Chizuma made allegations against individuals, public officers and private institutions. The conversation was recorded and shared on social media.

Kayuni was one of the persons mentioned in the audio and he  lodged a complaint to police in December last year saying the allegations Chizuma made are tantamount to criminal libel.

On December 6, Police surrounded Chizuma’s house at around 4AM where they arrested her before taking her to Namitete Police Station which is 48 kilometers outside of Lilongwe.

According to the inquiry, Police used excessive force in arresting Chizuma and defied an order by President Chakwera for unconditional release of the ACB director general. However, the commission found that apart from the manner of arrest, the rights of Chizuma as a suspect were respected as she was not tortured.

It has also transpired through the commission of inquiry that the arrest of Chizuma came two weeks after the ACB instituted investigations into travel allowances which DPP Kayuni received for a failed official trip in June 2021. According to the commission, Kayuni provided evidence that he repaid K3.5 million on December 1, 2022. However, the matter is still being handled by the ACB.

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