Chizuma welcomes the President at the event in Kasungu
* Her tone and body language in Kasungu just resonated well over her last week’s assault against her professionalism
* Warns perpetrators of speedy trial as Parliament approved establishment of a special court for fiscal and corruption cases
* For the first time the number of cases that have been investigated has increased by 27%
By Duncan Mlanjira
After being disgraced by being arrested by President Lazarus Chakwera’s own government, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma has recovered with integrity and presided over the commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day, that Chakwera himself graced in Kasungu on Friday.
Celebrated under theme ‘Tithetse ziphuphu; Titeteze Tsogolo la Malawi (Let’s stop corruption; Let’s protect Malawi’s future’), the global commemoration theme is ‘Recover with Integrity’ and Chizuma’s tone and body language in Kasungu just resonated well over her last week’s assault against her professionalism.
President Chakwera and Justice & Constitutional Minister, Titus Mvalo intervened by dropping the charges against her which were laid by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Steven Kayuni — who has since said he did it on personal basis.
In his speech, Chakwera defended Chizuma, describing her as his “champion in the fight against corruption”, and added that her arrest and the assault by a gang of police officers — who descended on her home in the dark of night and dragged her off outside the city in front of her children in her pajamas — was designed to intimidate and humiliate her.
“It was designed to show us that Malawi’s corruption empire has infiltrated state institutions, which we already knew because the previous administration recruited its cadets into the state machinery for years, many of whom are hiding their colours.
“But today, the attack on Martha’s home is being investigated, because even though Malawi’s corruption empire has struck back at us, we are not afraid.
“Those of you who tried to intimidate her should know that you have failed. Those of you who tried to make her feel like she is alone should know that you have failed. This is a fight for all of us.
“So if you are ready to kill in order to destroy Malawi’s future, then you should know that we are ready to die to save Malawi’s future.”
He also highlighted that the fight against corruption is for the citizenry’s very lives; that “it is a costly and dangerous fight” and gave an example of events of seven years ago, when “Malawi’s corruption empire showed us all that it is a murderous empire.
“In 2015, Issa Njaunju, a high ranking official of the ACB was murdered, his body left half-buried behind the presidential villas not far from Kamuzu Palace, and his car left in ashes in Mtandire.
“Under the previous administration, nothing was done to solve this crime, and no one was held accountable. But today, under my administration, the case is finally in court, because even though Malawi’s corruption empire is ready to kill to continue stealing from Malawians, we are not afraid.
“After I became President in 2020, we empowered Bob Mtekama, a top investigator in the Malawi Police Service, to get to the bottom of this crime — but within one month of my presidency, Bob died under suspicious circumstances, and we were once again reminded that our fight against corruption is a fight against people who do not even care whether we live or die.
“But today, Bob’s death is also being investigated and is in court, because even though Malawi’s corruption empire is ready to kill to continue stealing from Malawians, we are not afraid.
“Those who have corrupted our system will not go quietly. They will not lay down their weapons and simply surrender. They will not come here to this event and shake hands to make peace.
“They are against everything we stand for. They are determined to stop our efforts. They have vowed to use every means to make sure their dark empire survives, including violence and murder.”
Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — under whose watch Njaunju was murdered, contends that Chizuma’s arrest confirms what the opposition party has maintained “all along” that Chakwera “is leading a government that is clueless, incompetent, undemocratic and corrupt”.
In a statement from Namalomba on Wednesday, day after Chizuma’s arrest and subsequent release on bail, the DPP accused Chakwera’s administration under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) that is has — “for the past two years — tried to divert attention to its incompetence and cluelessness by arresting innocent Malawians without any basis”.
“Chakwera’s government has completely lost the trust of Malawians to govern,” said the party. “It is not an instrument of protection but oppression for Malawians.”
Thus the DPP demanded for Chakwera’s administration’s resignation “with immediate effect and pave way for an interim government that will conduct fresh elections in 90 days”.
However, the public faulted the DPP, saying it should be trumpeting against Chakwera’s administration by taking advantage of the arrest when under its watch, Njaunju was brutally murdered and its investigations were not made known until five years later.
In her strong worded presentation, Chizuma spoke directly to those who engage in corruption, saying people should not fool themselves that they cannot be held accountable by the law because of the power they yield because of politics, fame or positions they hold.
She emphasized that the money being plundered is not for government but for the 19 million Malawians who pay taxes, saying: “We agree that sometimes justice takes time but eventually justice will prevail, and this is evident already that for the first time the number of cases that have been investigated has increased by 27%.
“Let me warn those of you who engage in corruption and you may think the courts are overwhelmed with cases so your case will not be tried, know that Parliament approved laws that have seen establishment of a special court to try fiscal and corruption cases,” Chizuma said.
On his turn, Minister of Justice, Titus Mvalo said all Malawians are obliged to ensure that the country is corrupt free by practicing integrity and portray principle of transparency and accountability.
“Without these, citizens lose trust in their government and their participation in development is compromised,” he said Mvalo.
The event was also highlighted by the launch of anti-corruption anthem called ‘Umunthu’ composed by Roy Kwelepeta.—Additional reporting by Vincent Khonje, MANA