The suspension of Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma by President Lazarus Chakwera has angered western donors.
Western diplomats on Thursday shunned the 2023 National Development Conference which Chakwera presided over. An official from the British High Commission who appeared on the program as a panelist did not show up.
Reports indicate that the American Ambassador to Malawi was also invited but did not attend the conference in protest over the suspension of Chizuma.
Instead of attending the conference, diplomats met for hours to discuss the interdiction of Chizuma which is being viewed as an attempt by the Chakwera administration to weaken the ACB and stop it from prosecuting top government officials.
“Ambassadors of US, Britain, EU, Germany and other western countries today met for hours to discuss a coordinated response to the interdiction of ACB Director Martha Chizuma. Some of the envoys will meet President Lazarus Chakwera to discuss the issue,” the Platform for Investigative Journalism reported.
Chizuma is considered by diplomat and many people in Malawi as a champion in the fight against corruption due to her willingness to prosecute cases involving top officials in the current administration, particularly those connected to businessperson Zuneth Sattar who is alleged to have stolen billion of Kwacha from Malawi Government.
In December, after Chizuma was arrested over her leaked audio, the United States threatened economic sanctions against Malawi and travel ban against those involved, according to Attorney General Thabo Nyirenda’s statements to the Commission of Inquiry on the arrest.
Chizuma was suspended on January 31 through a letter signed by Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba who also faces strong corruption and fraud allegations made by former National Oil Company of Malawi chief executive officer Helen Buluma
According to Zamba, Chizuma should not be working as ACB director until the conclusion of a case in which she faces two criminal charges over remarks made in a 2022 leaked audio.
However, several rights groups and Malawians on social media have condemned the suspension. Some legal scholars have argued that that the suspension of Chizuma is illegal.
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