Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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Chizuma faces defamation battle and possible arrest; Legal expert says President has no say

"The President's forgiveness is inconsequential"

Martha Chizuma: Director General of ACB

The embattled Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) czar, Martha Chizuma, is about to fight a legal suit in court as one of the people she accused of being corrupt, judge Simeon Mdeza, has moved to seek justice to his soiled reputation.

Sources close to judge Mdeza have confided in Shire Times that “the judge did not take the injury suffered by the ACB Director’s accusations lightly” and therefore suing her for defamation.

A leak storm engulfed the Malawi social media space on 23 January this year, in which a lady was speaking over a phone call with a male who was later identified as Anderson Mwakyelu who allegedly operates a Facebook account named Orama Namalomba.

The ownership of the audio was confirmed by Chizuma when she eventually met the President over the scandal. President Chakwera communicated during the firing of his maiden cabinet that the ACB Director had admitted that the audio was hers and that she apologized.

“Earlier today, I held a meeting with the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Ms. Martha Chizuma, and the Minister of Justice, Hon. Titus Mvalo. I called for the meeting pursuant to Section 4(4) of the Corrupt Practices Act, which requires the Director General of the Bureau to report to me and the Minister on the general conduct of the affairs of the Bureau. Among the things tabled at this meeting was an audio recording of a conversation between Ms. Chizuma and another person, which Ms. Chizuma has confirmed to be an authentic recording of a conversation she has acknowledged to me and the Minister to constitute misconduct on her part”, said Chakwera in his remarks during an address that was delivered to the nation on 24 January this year.

In the leaked phone conversation with her supposed confidante, Chizuma accused a judge who was presiding over a case which she lost as being corrupt. The case involved Ashok Nair, who is billed as an agent for Zuneth Sattar, in connection to alleged fraudulent land deals with the then Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa.

Msukwa had filed for a judicial review of his arrest which the ACB carried out. Ashok Nair, who is accused alongside Msukwa, joined the judicial review application and his request for immediate release pending that judicial review was granted by the High Court judge Simeon Mdeza.

Chizuma then specifically said, in the leaked audio, that she went to court knowing that the judge had already been bribed.

“The judge had already been bribed. We knew before going to court. The case was on Friday, but we knew by Wednesday that something was wrong,” she said.

The judge eventually recused himself from the case in its subsequent proceedings and is now seeking intervention of the court.

“The learned judge feels aggrieved by what Chizuma said in that recording. The accusations have damaged the judge’s standing in society. No wonder he has since recused himself from the case because he feels that his continued participation will have perceived bias in the eyes of the public,” said the source in its brief to Shire Times.

While President Chakwera forgave the ACB Director’s misconduct which allegedly violated the Corrupt Practices Act that creates her office, with “a stern warning”, legal commentators who have opted for anonymity have argued that the President’s forgiveness is only confined to his decision to retain her in office and not her accountability to the law.

“Unfortunately, her conduct is criminal in its violation of Oath of Secrecy Regulations under the Corrupt Practices Act. In a scheme of rule of law, the President has no say as to whether an offender has to be prosecuted or not. It’s entirely upon the State to decide depending on evidence that it has gathered,” said the Chilunga-based legal commentator.

Meanwhile, news has it that the State might prosecute Chizuma over the scandal.


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