Martha Chizuma suspended: Chakwera administration interdict Malawi anti-corruption chief


Chizuma and Chakwera during International Anti-Corruption Day commemorations last year

The Lazarus Chakwera administration has suspended Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general, Martha Chizuma, over her leaked audio.

However, it has been alleged that Chizuma has been suspended for obtaining a warrant of arrest for the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Secretary general and former minister Eisenhower Mkaka as well as former Director of Public Prosecution Steven Kayuni.

It is alleged government is using the leaked audio to hoodwink Malawians.

In a letter to Chizuma dated 31 January, Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba says the interdiction is due to the criminal case in which Chizuma is answering two charges relating to her leaked audio.

“The allegations constitute serious misconduct of a public officer and an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB),” reads part of the letter.

“In view of this and in accordance with the Malawi Public Service Commission Regulation 42(3) as read with Regulation 40, you are interdicted from exercising the powers and functions of your office as Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau effective 31 January 2023, with full pay,” the letter adds.

Ironically, Zamba reports to Chakwera who, on 18 January this year, said he had maintained Chizuma as ACB director director and described her as a champion in the fight against corruption.

The suspension of Chizuma ALSO comes days after Parliament approved the appointment of Hilary Chilomba as deputy director general of the ACB. Chilomba was hired recently under the Chakwera administration and is believed to be a sympathiser of the current administration.

In January last year, an audio of a conversation between Chizuma and Anderson Mwakyelu leaked on social media. In the audio, Chizuma discussed an ongoing corruption case and made remarks about lawyers, judges, Chakwera and heads of other agencies in the fight against corruption.

After the audio leaked, Chakwera said he had considered firing Chizuma but had forgiven her. He added that he would keep watching her conduct.

Part of the letter

On December 6 last year, Police invaded Chizuma’s house in Lilongwe where they arrested the ACB director and drover her 48 kilometres to Namitete.

The arrest followed a complaint from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the time, Steven Kayuni, who complained that Chizuma, in the leaked audio, described him as corrupt and compromised.

Public backlash over the arrest forced Chakwera to institute a commission of inquiry which faulted Kayuni, saying he demonstrated lack of judgment.

The inquiry also found that reasonable grounds to suspect that Chizuma committed offences and demonstrated lack of judgement in her leaked audio.

Chakwera on January 18 fired Kayuni for using his position as DPP to settle a personal score  but maintained his decision to stand by Chizuma.

However, last week Chizuma was summoned to appear before a court in Lilongwe to answer a charge of making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings, contrary to section 113(d) of the Penal Code. The count relates to Kayuni’s complaint.

Police also said Chizuma will answer a charge of making use of speech calculated to lower authority of a person before whom a judicial proceeding is being had, contrary to section 113(d) of the Penal Code. This count, according to police, relates to  Chizuma’s alleged  remarks that Justice Simeon Mdeza was bribed when he presided over  a case involving Ashok Kumar Sreedharan, an alleged accomplice of businessperson Zuneth Sattar.

However, Mdeza told the local media that he did not lodge a complaint with the Malawi Police and was surprised to see his name on the charge sheet.

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