The commission of inquiry on the arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma wound up its work yesterday [December 30], the Office of President and Cabinet has indicated.
In a written response to our inquiry seeking an update on the same, Deputy Secretary to President and Cabinet Janet Banda said the 14 working days for the commission would end yesterday.
On December 6 2022, President Lazarus Chakwera constituted a 12-member commission, led by retired Justice of Appeal Edward Twea, to inquire on developments surrounding Chizuma’s arrest.
Reads the communication from OPC, signed by Banda: “His Excellency the President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by Section 89 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi as read with Section 2 (1) of the Commission of Inquiry Act…has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the recent developments regarding the arrest of the Director General of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) with effect from December 6 2022. The commission is expected to finalise its work and submit a written report to the President within 14 working days from the day of the swearing-in.”
Commissioners were sworn-in on December 10 and; therefore, minus holidays, but including December 27, the 14-day period expired yesterday. Within the period, according to insiders, several high-ranking government officials have appeared before the commission.
Witnesses included Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo, Minister of Homeland Security Jean Sendeza, Inspector General of Police Merlyn Yolamu, Attorney General Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda, Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni, Justice Mdeza and Chizuma herself.
Chizuma was arrested at around 4am on December 6 2022, and taken to Namitete Police Station. The arrest led to donors and the public’s criticism, led to her release before mid-day the same day.
He arrest followed a complaint lodged by Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni, who alleged that he was injured by allegations Chizuma made in a leaked audio in January. Kayuni was suspended in relation to Chizuma’s arrest.
Critics have expressed reservations with the establishment of a commission of inquiry, arguing that this is just a cover-up. What also heightens the suspicion is that similar inquiries in the past have not yielded results.
A Weekend Nation analysis in 2018 exposed how government has ignored several recommendations from commissions of inquiry, which include those on the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika and polytechnic student Robert Chasowa. From these two inquiries some recommendations have been partially implemented even after government spent a fortune for the exercises