By Falles Kamanga
Embattled Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma has 18 months left on her three-year contract. Come February 2024 she will have to be accountable for what she has achieved at the graft-busting body.
Following the drama and social media hype that characterized her appointment and confirmation by Parliament in February 2021, Chizuma has failed to display any traits of good performance.
When one compares the yardstick that was set before her against the benchmarks left by her predecessors it is safe to say she is the least performing ACB director to date.
Her immediate predecessor Reyneck Matemba started and concluded several high profile cases like that of business guru Thom Mpinganjira, former cabinet minister Uladi Mussa and former Member of Parliament for Mzimba Hora, Mzomera Ngiwra.
Matemba was not tired of going to court and doing what he was appointed to do. In court he argued cases professionally with sound presentations.
As such it was not surprising to see him win cases with ease.
The same cannot be said for Chizuma. Observers say probably she has failed to make a mark at ACB because she has severe limitations in prosecution. With a track record as a magistrate followed by some corporate work then Ombudsman, she does not have what it takes to stand in court before learned judges and magistrates to offer sound arguments or grill suspects to punch holes into their submissions.
And this has come to light in the cases she has handled so far. ACB under Chizuma has looked so unsophisticated and unprepared in court.
Take for example the NOCMA case that involves former minister Newton Kambala, former Presidential Advisor Chris Chaima Banda and AFORD President Enock Chihana. When the matter was brought to court, Chizuma failed to make any meaningful manouvers.
She was completely cornered when the authenticity about Hellen Buluma’s phone conversations with the accused persons was brought forward. ACB had no strong ground to stop forensic examination of the evidence.
In court Chizuma has looked out of sorts. No strategy, no focus, just formal appearance to seem like she is working.
By now one would expect to see some cases past crucial stages such as the accused entering plea of guilt and being declared to have a case to answer.
Most of the cases being handled by Chizuma are still in preliminary stages where the accused are yet to enter any plea.
Malawi has a long way to fight corruption if people like Martha Chizuma will continue heading the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB)