LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s civil right grouping under the banner Forum for National Development (FND) still feels Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma needs to go seriously discipline process for violating office’s oath secrecy over leaked audio.
The grouping observes that Chizuma has not learnt any lesson over the leaked audio that exposes ACB office model of fighting corruption to the public.
In a statement made available to The Maravi Post on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 signed by its National Coordinator Fryson Chodzi says the ACB boss has antagonized the legal fraternity and until she names and shame the 20 corrupt lawyers and prosecute them named in the leaked audio.
Chodzi observes that Chizuma has broken the law under oath of secrecy which carries a prison sentence or fine, and only until she exonerate herself.
“She will be looked at as a law breaker who only survived at the mercy of the President. Chizuma has proven that she is sympathy seeking by talking sensitive matters with people outside her office which brings to question the level of exposure that ACB has suffered.
“Our anticipation was that the Director was to undergo the disciplinary process and ensure that the right remedies are in place so that confidence in the ACB is restored. President Chakwera made it worse by going against his own pillar of rule of law and meted a forgiveness towards the Director which is not part of the laws of Malawi. The president should have allowed the Director to go through the due process of the law and if upon found guilty, he should have pardoned her as the law requires,” says Chodzi.
Currently, Chizuma faces two law suits from individuals who were injured in a leaked audio for corruption allegation.
Below is FND full state on need for Martha Chizuma be disciplined:
UPHOLDING RULE OF LAW IN FIGHTING CORRUPTION
Forum for National Development (FND) have been engaging several constitutionally instituted bodies that are involved in the ongoing investigations of politically exposed persons alleged to have received bribes from Mr. Zuneth Sattar.
We have raised issues with the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), the Attorney General (AG) the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Judiciary, the Malawi Law Society as well as the British Government on how the matter is being handled which we fear would jeopardize the entire processes and demanding full disclosure of information.
We were therefore shocked by the leaked audio of ACB Director which President Dr. Lazurus Chakwera authenticated in his national address on 24th January 2022. The contents in the audio undermined the entire justice system, corruption fight and above all, compromised the ACB Director stance as a law
abiding citizen by breaking the law of oath of secrecy under the corrupt practices act. We have observed the following three things out of the leaked audio;
Lives of staff at ACB are endangered
There is nothing as dangerous for ACB as to have a Director who divulges information concerning the Bureau to third parties because you can get investigators of the Bureau killed. This is so because it is very difficult to know the context of how much more information has been divulged to third parties.
The Bureau oath of secrecy is to ensure success for cases when they go to court on one hand while on the other is to protect the lives of the staff at ACB who come across very sensitive information. It’s not in a distant past that an Officer of the Bureau was murdered, Mr. Issa Njaunju whose death to date still remains a mystery. Nobody has bothered to find out who was leaking information from the
ACB which eventually led to the death of Njaunju.
The public Trust being undermined: After the leaked audio and events thereof, Ms. Chizuma was supposed to work towards gaining public trust either by issuing a public apology or by disowning
the audio. We have noted that the ACB Director has shown no remorse and we have noted a heightened propaganda which seeks to sweep under the carpet the wrong doing of the Director. What is more bizarre is the fact that the Director’s stay at ACB is at the mercy of forgiveness of the appointing authority of which as the public we don’t know the concessions that were agreed upon in
order to arrive at that decision.
From the leaked audio discussion, FND strongly believes that these laws were broken which both of them carries a prison sentence and a fine.
• Directly revealing official information to an unauthorized person, contrary to regulation 4 (a) of the Corrupt Practices (Oath of Secrecy) Regulations.
• Making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings, contrary to section 113 (1) (d) of the Penal Code.
Our anticipation was that the Director was to undergo the disciplinary process and ensure that the right remedies are in place so that confidence in the ACB is restored. President Chakwera made it worse by going against his own pillar of rule of law and meted a forgiveness towards the Director which is not part of the laws of Malawi.
The president should have allowed the Director to go through the due process of the law and if upon found guilty, he should have pardoned her as the law requires.
As a result of the above, we were compelled to report the matter to the authorities through Magistrate courts. The laws of Malawi Section 83 (1) (a) and (2) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code recognizes that criminal proceedings can be commenced by a report of any such crime to the police or when it’s probable that the police will not act, the report can be made to the judicial officer in this case, the Magistrate.
The magistrate has determined that our Counsel has no prosecutorial powers over criminal matters and that rests in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), of which we find it strange as our role was just to report the alleged offences and we expected at the least, the magistrate to ask the DPP
to determine whether the matter is worthy prosecution or not.
However, the determination does not in any way render the report invalid or clears the wrong
doing on the part of the ACB Director.
Notwithstanding this, we are of conviction that Ms. Martha Chizuma’s position at ACB is unattainable as she cannot successfully prosecute and secure any conviction relate to corruption unless her wrong doing undergoes a due process of the law for the following reasons;
1.She has antagonized the very same courts she will seek justice from and until she reveals the name of the corrupt judges and also expose the judge who got money from Mr. Ashok Nair.
2. She has already prejudiced other suspects under the law which might lead to mistrial.
3. She has antagonized the legal fraternity and until she names and shame the 20 corrupt lawyers and prosecute them.
4. She has been compromised by the President’s forgiveness which is breaking of the law in itself.
5. She has broken the law under oath of secrecy which carries a prison sentence or fine, and only until she exonerate herself, she will be looked at as a law breaker who only survived at the mercy of the President.
6. She has proven that she is sympathy seeking by talking sensitive matters with people outside her office which brings to question the level of exposure that ACB has suffered
7. She has proven to be an agent and serving interest of a foreign government especially that of Britain and other western Government by her own admission that ‘Azungu trust her’.
Based on the foregoing and with strong conviction we have, FND continue to urge the appointing authority and indeed Ms. Martha Chizuma to do what is right by allowing the rule of law to take its course.
We ought to remember that fighting corruption is a collective responsibility and cannot be personalized.
Malawians must remove the emotions attached to the issue and start looking at the bigger picture and take time to reflect whether the fight against corruption is attainable under the circumstances.
The lives of staff of ACB are endangered if leaking of information is not treated as a serious offense. The same is with public trust and law breaking.
There are still more avenues that FND is exploring to ensure that the rule of law is adhered to by both the Executive and indeed the ACB Director which we believe is paramount for ACB to properly discharge its responsibilities.
We will not relent in this matter as failure to address this gross miscarriage of the law will render ACB impotent and having the Director at ACB at the mercy of the Executive orders.
Signed, Fryson Chodzi, FND NATIONAL COORDINATOR