Furore rages on over Chizuma’s rejection as ACB boss; HRDC demands President Chakwera to resubmit her name

Chizuma described as a star performer, a reformist and a crusader for justice

* NGO Gender Coordination Network petitions Speaker of Parliament to provide minutes of PAC interview

* Just the perfect candidate to head the ACB

* The next interview should be beamed live on television and radio

By Duncan Mlanjira

There was a widespread outrage as soon as news broke that Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee (PAC) has rejected the appointment of Martha Chizuma as the new Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), saying she failed the interviews held on Tuesday.

Advertisement

Several NGO’s have since stood up demanding an explanation, suspecting that the rejection might be a calculated move by the opposition members of the Committee to block her appointment, fearing she will go after some of them once she is given the job as some of the MPs are answering corruption charges.

In Parliament on Wednesday, President Lazarus Chakwera also accused PAC for sabotaging his administration’s quest in the fight against corruption, saying “this is an attempt of denying justice and rule of law to prevail”.

Chakwera arriving at Parliament to deliver the SONA

The same day, NGO Gender Coordination Network sent a petition to Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara to provide minutes or a detailed report of the meeting proceedings.

Gender Coordination Network, on behalf of Women Manifesto Movement; Women Lawyers Association; National Advocacy Platform and Human Rights Defenders Coalition, also demand to be provided with the guidelines or criteria of assessment for the interviews.

It also asks for the textual or audio verbatim recording covering the actual interview process and the individual score sheets (with justifications) that were utilized in tallying the final score.

This, the Network says is “with respect to sections 6 and 12 of the Constitution of Malawi, as well as articles 5, 14 and 15 of the Access to Information Act, among others…in the common interest of the consortium’s affiliates.

The petition was signed by chairpersons of NGO Gender Coordination Network (Barbara Banda); Women Manifesto Movement (Maggie Banda); Women Lawyers Association (Immaculate Maluza); Human Rights Defenders Coalition (Gift Trapence) and National Advocacy Platform’s Benedicto Kondowe.

PAC chairperson, Joyce Chitsulo, DPP Mwanza West MP

Chizuma appeared before the Committee where nine members voted for her while the other nine voted against her appointment.

In a normal circumstance, PAC comprises 21 members, including the chairperson.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has since asked President Chakwera, “as the law permits” to resubmit Chizuma as the ACB Director, saying she “is the country’s favorite due to her tenacity, her passion for justice and the efficiency at which she goes about her job [as] exhibited by her tenure as the Ombudsman where she rejuvenated the inert office”.

HRDC describes Chizuma as “a star performer, a reformist and a crusader for justice — just the perfect candidate to head the ACB”.

Composition of PAC

“We believe that an effective ACB Director creates and effective environment in which democracy strives. An equal and just public system serves as a valuable economic equalizer that enables all Malawians, regardless of class or creed, to compete without hindrance.

“Which is why, like all well-meaning Malawians across the country, we at the HRDC are shocked by PAC’s decision to derail the country’s desire for a corrupt-fee nation.”

HRDC expressed its incredulity of the “awkward scoring” from the interview panelists, wondering “what the ultimate goal of the committee members who scored her 1 out of 25 points”.

“What do they have to hide? What are they afraid of? It is our belief that every Malawian who wishes this country well, every Malawian who has no skeletons in their cupboards will support Ms Chizuma’s candidature.”

Coronavirus alert

HRDC thus says since PAC is a public office, it “should make public the report on the scoring process in order to determine the veracity of the process” and that Chizuma’ candidature “be retailed at the PAC and that a more evidence-based scorecard should be used”.

HRDC also as that the next interview “should be beamed live on television and radio to allow Malawians to be the real judges of this process”.

“We feel the time has come for confirmation to be televised live on TV to allow Malawians to appreciate the process.”

Delivering the State of Nation Address titled “Accelerating the Change Malawi Voted For” Chakwera said the action by PAC in rejecting a solid legal personality that Chizuma is, is undoubtedly an attempt to deny Malawi become a nation free from corruption.

“This is an attempt of denying justice and rule of law to prevail and blocking the notion of making Malawi a corruption free nation,” he said.

The Speaker welcoming Chakwera at Parliament

On levels of poverty and how Malawi can come out from it, Chakwera said Malawi’s poverty is man-made and there is need to reverse this, saying there is need to have a clear agenda of what kind of a Malawi that the citizenry want in four years from now.

He also said his government is tirelessly working to enhance job creation and creation of wealth so that people have money in their pockets and that they are able to rely on themselves.

He attacked Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) — which are the vehicle to accelerate meaningful development — saying they are slow in doing business.

He accused them of having an element of laziness and sabotage in the way the MDAs are doing their jobs.

Chakwera said if the issues are to do with legislations, there is need to change some laws so that they are able to spin national development.

Appeal from Sandra Sharon Kamanga