Legal scholars say Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba has no authority to suspend Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma.
Zamba on 31 January informed Chizuma that she should stop exercising her duties as ACB boss because she is facing criminal charges relating to her leaked audio.
Zamba based her decision to interdict Chizuma on Malawi Public Service Regulations 42(3) as read with Regulation 42 as well the Corrupt Practices Act.
However, South Africa based legal scholar Professor Danwood Chirwa has argued that only the President has authority to suspend the ACB director general and this is under Section 6(3) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
Writing on Facebook, Chirwa noted that Chakwera may have delegated Zamba which is also unlawful as the power of suspending the ACB chief cannot be delegated.
“Zamba has clearly usurped the authority of the President. Her letter is unlawful and therefore void,” said Chirwa in a Facebook post yesterday.
On Wednesday, Professor Garton Kamchedzera of University of Malawi said what Zamba has done should be ignored because it cannot be legally enforced.
He described the suspension of Chizuma as a desperate act by those trying to derail the fight against corruption in Malawi.
“This is an act of desperate, brazen impunity by corrupt networks fighting not only the ACB Director, but the whole idea that this country can fight the rot of corruption,” he said.
He added: “The President has told the country that he wants to keep her as ACB Director. It is either the President is hypocritical or he needs to wrestle back control of this Government from corrupt networks who are causing all this shame.”
Meanwhile, Chizuma’s lawyer Martha Kaukonde has told the local media that the ACB director, who is also a lawyer, stopped reporting for work following the interdiction.
“She is yet to decide on the next step. She is taking it slow,” Kaukonde said.
The interdiction of Chizuma came after the ACB obtained warrants of arrest against former Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni and a lawyer in the DPP’s office Dziko Malunda. The two are alleged to have received allowances for a foreign trip but did not undertake the trip. Kayuni’s complaint was the one that led to the arrest of Chizuma in December this year and to one of the charges which Chizuma is facing.
There were reports that the ACB also issued an arrest warrant against Zamba who faces corruption allegations made by former National Oil Company of Malawi chief executive officer Helen Buluma.
The ACB has, however, said it has not obtained any arrest warrant against Zamba.
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