The High Court in Blantyre says Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Colleen Zamba has no powers to interdict Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma.
The court has made the ruling in a judicial review case launched by Malawi Law Society (MLS) over Zamba’s decision to suspend Chizuma due to her leaked audio and prosecutor Levison Mangani’s decision to bring criminal charges against Chizuma.
High Court judge Mike Tembo, in his judgement made on May 5 2023, has said the President of the Republic of Malawi is the one with power to suspend the ACB director and this power is exercisable only in the public interest.
According to Tembo, it was unlawful for Zamba, being a person other than the President, to suspend the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau from performing the functions of the office of director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
“The decision of the 3rd defendant interdicting or suspending the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau from performing functions of the office of director of Anti-Corruption Bureau is, therefore, null and void for illegality due to overstepping of authority since the 3rd defendant had no authority whatsoever to suspend [her],” Tembo said.
Tembo then granted reliefs to MLS which include a declaration that the decision of the SPC made on January 31 2023, to issue the interdiction order against Chizuma without any express directive from the President was unconstitutional.
He also greed with MLS that the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau is immune from action or other proceedings for official acts done in good faith
Chizuma was arrested in December last year following a complaint from the former Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni that the ACB director, in the leaked audio, described him as compromised and corrupt.
Following a commission of inquiry into the arrest, Chakwera fired Kayuni on January 18. On Chizuma, the president said he stood by his earlier decision to maintain her as ACB director despite the leaked audio.
A week after Kayuni was fired, state prosecutor Mangani informed Chizuma that she had to appear before court to answer two criminal charges related to the leaked audio.
Chizuma was expected to take plea on January 27 but the case was shifted to February 8.
On 31 January, Zamba interdicted Chizuma because of the allegations she was facing and said the suspension will remain in effect until conclusion of the court case.
Following public backlash and the MLS injunction, Director of Public Prosecutions Masauko Chamkakala dropped the criminal charges against Chizuma.
Zamba also withdrew the interdiction of Chizuma following the discontinuance of the charges.
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