Chizuma, Malawians still want answers why she was rejected in first place
* Chizuma holds a Bachelor of Laws with Honors (LLB) from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College
* Holds a Master of Law degree in International Economic Law from the University of East London
* Member of the Bar Association of Malawi
* Member of Women Lawyers Association of Malawi
* Founding member and ex-officio of Women Judges Association of Malawi
* She has practised law for 18 years
* Previously worked with Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company as Legal Counsel
* Also was Senior Resident Magistrate; Assistant Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal
* Deputy chairperson of Industrial Relations Court (IRC)
* Former Ombudsman of Malawi
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawians have expressed their satisfaction and huge sigh of relief following the confirmation of Martha Chizuma by the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee (PAC) as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General.
She was controversially rejected by the same committee Tuesday last week as she was miserably scored her during the interview process and after her name was resubmitted, four Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MPs — Victor Musowa, Mary Navicha, Chifundo Makande and Masauko White — walked out of the meeting.
From the 13 members that remained, 12 voted in favor of Chizuma’s while one abstained.
This time around, Chizuma was not at Parliament as the Committee agreed to change its standing orders for the confirmation to be done using open ballot.
The news of the confirmation has been well received by Malawians as trending on social media with some still asking if the nation could be provided with an explanation as to why she was rejected in the first place.
Commenting on Facebook, Ezekiel Mtambo and Phillip Nelson were of the belief that the DPP team that walked out the must have been the ones who miserably scored her 1 out of 25 in “everything including her qualifications”.
“Let’s put jealous aside, she well deserves the position and it is the expectation of many Malawians,” Mtambo said.
Mark Katandula Adam said the appointment has raised some questions, which include; why was she rejected in the first place when “the committee lebeled her as incompetent and why has the committee decided to vote for the second time as the meeting of on Monday was for them to produce a report on how their earlier decision was arrived at.
“By looking at all the above questions it just shows some of these MPs prioritize their political party interests rather than those of malawians at large,” Katandula said.
PAC chairperson, Joyce Chitsulo — DPP Parliamentarian for Mwanza West — who is reported to have refused to give a tie-breaker in the earlier interview, is being questioned as to her explanation that the first voting process was done in credible manner.
Chitsulo has been under intense fire throughout last week as the public, human rights and civil society organizations — and even President Lazarus Chakwera, who accused PAC for sabotaging his administration’s quest in the fight against corruption.
He had said in Parliament on Wednesday during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that what PAC did was “an attempt of denying justice and rule of law to prevail”.
As PAC chairperson, Joyce Chitsulo has defended the decision of the committee to confirm Chizuma saying it is within procedures to have the committee change its mind.
She told the media that Parliament adopted the motion from Dowa North East MP Sam Kawale to have them rescind their earlier decision and that she was “personally happy” she had been confirmed.
“I have been saying this, that I for one would love to see Chizuma confirmed,” she is quoted as saying.
Commenting on Facebook, January Janu said his “heart beat has finally normalised” and that “Malawi has won” while Taniel Kaunda said: “That’s a very sweet news to most Malawians because this a clear signal that citizens are tired of ubiquitous corruption in this country hence the vice will surely let up owing to this lady.”
Pat Banda was questioned why the procedure must “require the appointee to go through PAC? You mean the framers of the procedure never knew that PAC is composed of politicians?”
To which Owen Chiutsi rejoined, saying “when it comes to issue to do with corruption, politicians cannot be trusted and for your own information the so called PAC committee is there just because of us the voters and we as the voters we are tired of cashgates always. Thats why we wanted someone that can be feared”.
Samuel Simba said: “Malawians has won the battle. The Malawi we have now cannot afford to accept nonsense. We want genuine change in this country.”
Peniel Nunez Lizibowa said Malawi’s democracy is at its peak and that the citizenry “will fight for what is known to be good and beneficial for us with or without using the laws”.
“From now onwards, politicians have been taught a great lesson. Palibe zomapanga nyambwali nyambwali in the name of obeying and manipulating some laws to infringe the common known goodness to Malawians.”
Ezra Kapachika applauded the choice of Chizuma in the “serious fight against corruption, but this PAC needs to be asked some important questions to see if it is really credible committee”.
“I feel that the report should still be released to tell Malawians how the first vote went and on what grounds were people rating her as low as one out of 25. PAC needs to be strong and not politically influenced.”
Chizuma was appointed the Ombudsman on December 1, 2015 and her position constitutionally entailed her to be a Commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), a Commissioner of the Police Service Commission and a member of Malawi Prison Inspectorate.
As MHRC Commissioner, in which she served as chairperson of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Thematic Committee, she has previously served as a Commissioner responsible for the Disability and Elderly Rights Directorate.
Chizuma has led, participated or provided oversight functions in several low- and high-profile human rights related investigations that MHRC has conducted over the years particularly since 2015 when she became its Commissioner.
Carrying out such an oversight and investigative role in human rights violations at MHRC ably complemented her job as Ombudsman where she successfully led in investigations of several high- and low-profile cases relating to maladministration and abuse of public office in the process earning wider public and international recognition as one of the fearless, patriotic and outstanding public protector and human rights defenders of our time.
Some of the national and international awards to her credit include:
* Woman of the Year Award 2021 African Gender Equality Conference;
* 2020 Women Lawyer Member of the Year – Government; and
* 2020 Institute of Marketers Person of the Year
Under her leadership the office of the Ombudsman was voted 2019 Best Exhibitor at the first-ever Ombudsman Expo in Nigeria and 2019 Best Performer amongst Constitutional bodies and overall best performing public institution in the country.
Chizuma is also a board member of several international and local organisations such as the World Vision Malawi (a member of Advisory Council), PSI-Malawi and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa. She is also the patron of FPAM.
Chiti Mkulu said on Facebook: “And some people in their little thinking still had the view that she was not qualified for the job and graded her 1/25 on qualification?”
Utonga Mungo said this was “impeccable professional record. She fully deserves the position” while Lansen Chikopa added voice by quoting campaigner against social ills, Idriss Ali Nassah as saying “we will fix Malawi, brick by brick”.
Mungo added that: “Let the politicians know that their positions are personal to holder. MPs better know they are in their positions only as our representatives.
“Lying to us that we are their bosses during campaigns will not be tolerated, not anymore as the contemporary Malawi will force them to serve us by force, by fire. If the fire is too much — QUIT!
“It was a shame to see women who make noise on women empowerment pulling down a woman without fair justification. Glad light prevails over darkness!”