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Chakwera Blunders On Martha Chizuma’s “Substandard Report”

When President Lazarus Chakwera described Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General Martha Chizuma “s report” Substandard “on suspected corrupt officers in his Tonse administration, many rebuked and doubted the Man of God who became the Malawi leader in 2020

Consequently, Chakwera on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 announced stopped delegating duties to Vice Chilima, Kapondamgaga be reinstated

When President Lazarus Chakwera described Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma’s report “Substandard” on suspected corrupt officers in his Tonse administration, many rebuked and doubted the Man of God who became the Malawi leader in 2020.

Chakwera as a head of state did not want to contravene the work of ACB after Chizuma submitted the report of incriminating 13 public officials who the graft-busting body said it had extensively investigated on corruption suspicions relating to businessperson Zunneth Sattar’s contracts with the Malawi Government.

Consequently, Chakwera on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 announced stopped delegating duties to Vice President Saulos Chilima, suspending State House Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga and firing Police Chief George Kainja.

Chakwera made a contradiction statement saying despite Chilima being mentioned in the report, there is no any evidence that his deputy indeed received bribes from businessperson.

The president made the decisions on Chilima and Kapondamgaga based Chizuma’s substandard report that indicated that the two were part of the 13 public officials who the graft-busting body said it had extensively investigated on corruption suspicions relating to businessperson Zunneth Sattar’s contracts with the Malawi Government.

He, however said the bureau did not provide any information on what Chilima, Kapondamgaga or Suzi did though it explained that Kainja was recorded discussing kickbacks with Sattar.

The president described Chizuma’s report as substandard that lack concrete evidence that can be proved in the court of law.

“The report states that the Bureau has concluded that he is among the 13 who conducted themselves corruptly in dealing with Mr. Sattar, and despite my appeal for the Bureau to produce a report of its findings about.

I find this decision by the Bureau irregular for four reasons. Firstly, because it dishonours the principleof separating the powers of the Executive Branch, to which the Bureau reports, from the powers of theJudiciary and the Legislature, which exist for different functions. Secondly, I find it irregular because I know of no law that authorizes the Bureau to submit reports to the heads of the Legislature orof the Judiciary for private use,” Chakwera rebukes Chizuma.

He added, “Thirdly, I find it irregular because the Bureau already stated in the report that it cannot release the list of individuals implicated by the report to the public to avoid prejudicing people who may otherwise be innocent, and yet the same Bureau has already gone ahead to release the report to two other public offices that are not bound by law to keep it confidential.

“Fourthly, since the Bureau has said that it fears that reading the report may lead to prejudice, it shouldhave avoided potentially prejudicing the Chief Justice most of all, considering that the cases underinvestigation will be tried before the Courts and may very well end up before the Chief Justice and theSupreme Court for independent appeals”.

Concludes Chakwera without action on Chizuma’s irregular report, “An investigation of this scope, of this seriousness, and of this sensitivity requires skillful hands and a cool head, to avoid rookie procedural and strategic mistakes that risk giving the corrupt cartels in our land a footing to obstruct and oppose every move we make to defeat them.

“The stakes are way too high for that. What Malawians deserve from the Bureau is substance thatmakes a difference in pursuit of justice, not just suspicion that makes the headlines. And towards thatend, you can count on me to continue doing my part until this long battle is won”.

Based on the same report, Chakwera also suspended then chairperson of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) John-Suzi Banda and fired former Police Inspector General George Kainja.

After the report, the ACB has so far arrested Kainja, director of legal services in the Malawi Police Service Mwabi Kalua, Suzi-Banda and Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Lands Reyneck Matemba, who is also former ACB chief.

Prosecution of these officers has not started as Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has also not given consent due to lack of evidence that can proved in the court of law.

But nearly two months since the Chakwera rebuked Chizima over substandard report and withheld delegated duties from Chilima and interdicted Kapondamgaga, the duo has neither been questioned nor charged.

Many are now questioning the Chakwera’s wisdom of using substandard report to withdraw duties of his vice without getting clears facts including his trusted chief of staff Kapondamgaga.

ACB rushed the report and and if the President acted hastily on those mentioned in the report he said he had direct control over.

Asked why ACB has not moved on Chilima and Kapondamgaga almost two months after their public naming, ACB principal public relations officer Egrita Ndala, in an earlier interview, said the two were under investigation after which a decision would be made.

“You are aware that on 24th June 2022 the bureau arrested former Inspector General of Police Dr. George Kainja and Mwabi Kaluba, the legal officer.

“The prosecution of these matters are awaiting consent from the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions]. The other people you have mentioned are indeed some of the people that we are investigating,” Ndala told Nation Newspaper.

While noting that the bureau had said 13 people were extensively investigated, the President admitted that the report did not provide details of the actual wrongdoing. In fact, Chakwera dubbed the bureau report “substandard”.

Asked if the President rushed to suspend Chilima and Kapondamgaga from their responsibilities, given that the ACB does not seem ready to act, presidential press secretary Anthony Kasunda, stressed that the President’s action was based on the ACB report.

“President Chakwera clearly said that ACB’s independent report to him stated that the officers in question were not merely under the bureau’s investigation, but that the investigation into their conduct was extensive enough and its findings clear enough for the bureau to conclude that the officers were culpable.

“It is, therefore, because the bureau said the officers were not merely under investigation as the case was with others whose culpability the bureau had not yet established that the President made the decisions he did regarding those whose culpability the bureau said it had established,” he said.

Kasunda added that only the bureau is in a position to explain the nature of culpability.

“As it is, both the President and Malawians await the bureau to make known the conclusive findings it said it already had in its possession back in June,” he said.

Kasunda said while the President, like other Malawians, would want swift action on the matter, there is nothing that can be done in the interest of protecting the independence of the bureau.

As it has been always observed Chizuma used social media friends cooked and sponsored posts to criminate businessman Sattar, public figures including Chilima, Kapondamgaga for personal vendetta.

Chizuma forgets that corruption is a complex that needs corroboration with the office of Attorney General (AG), DPP, police and general public not misguided social media friends.

Miss Chizuma, how are you going to do with Chilima, Kapondamgaga whose public image in shame over the substandard report that concrete evidence to be proved in court?

Malawians are watching on Chizuma! Taxpayers money are monitoring your (Chizuma) emotional approach to complex matter on your desk

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