Malawians should now be feeling shortchanged by Martha Chizuma’s largely considered ‘popular’ choice to head the country’s graft busting body, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
This follows revelations that analysts have graded as ‘unsatisfactory’ her impact on the same, half-way through her three-year contract, which was largely obtained on trust.
Chizuma, who had initially been rejected by Parliament for the role, was saved by President Lazarus Chakwera’s insistence; a move the President has reiterated through continous backing for his top watch dog, both in speech and deeds.
The Chakwera-led adminstration has also matched its public rhetoric with action by increasing funding to the Bureau; a feat never achieved before in all the previous adminstration since the dawn of multiparty democracy in the country.
However, some analysts suggest Chizuma risks public wrath for not delivering on the job many fought tooth and nail for her to get.
Speaking on Times Television’s popular Hot Current Programme, renowned social commentator Humphreys Mvula has said Chizuma’s once- remarkable track record in fast waning, claiming she is slowly letting her appointing authority, the President, down as far as leading the country’s anti-graft fight is concerned.
Mvula was accompanied by governance commentator Kent Mphepo in the programme aired recently.
Like Mvula, Mphepo also expressed worry that the ACB was not doing enough in the fight against corruption.
On his part, Mvula claimed that the ACB now has no excuses but to perform to expectation as they continue to bask in the resolute political will to curb the malpractice in the country at the expense of losing the next national elections due in three years’ time.
“To be fair, I think those involved in fighting corruption in the country should be aware that the President is there to provide political leadership and policy direction while they do the actual work on the ground,” he said.
He added: “In as far as I am concerned President Chakwera is doing his part. I mean, he has even allowed prosecution on some of his closest cronies, with others arrested on graft allegations just to set the tone on his administration’s anti-graft stance. This is huge, and I expected that to be matched by meaningful action from the ACB which, unfortunately, can’t be said to be true of the same.”
Since Chakwera rose to power just over 25 months ago through the court-mandated Fresh Presidential Elections that saw Peter Mutharika and his DPP toppled, the President has seen Cabinet Ministes that include Kenzie Msukwa and Ken Kandodo probed over alleged corruption tendencies.
The other big fish to ‘fall from his grace’ over similar allegations include Vice President Saulos Chilima and former Inspector General of Police George Kainja.
Chilima has since seen his delegated powers withheld from him as a consequence while Kainja was fired outright.
Other officials also implicated in the scam were suspended from various top public positions they used to hold.
The other high profile ‘fish’ arrested by the ACB include business mogul Leston Mulli, former Reserve Bank ofalawi governor Dalitso Kabambe and former Cabinet Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha.
But despite all these efforts from the President, Chizuma is yet to successfully try any of the suspects, let alone secure a conviction.
“The problem is that the ACB arrest people without much evidence. People out there want action, even if it means one Minister is convicted that will make a statement that indeed the ACB is truly working and stands to deliver to expectation.”
Mvula also lamented the latest development at the Bureau where it has been reported that crucial evidence connected to the investigation of how Chilima’s UTM Party is said to have dubiously procured 44 vehicles.
The analyst vehemently declared this as sleeping on the job by the beleaguered ACB boss; something he said may easily tantamount to incompetence and deservedly amounts to calls for her head.
He explained: “Probably the first problem is that she has no experience in prosecuting cases, she has been a magistrate yes but she has never done prosecution to give her the requisite experience for the ACB job.”
On a positive note, Mphepo hailed Chizuma for increasing awareness on the ills of the malpractice [corruption] despite arguing that awareness with no action against the vice remains detrimental towards eradicating the same in Malawi.
“We need more action, arrests made, prosecutions begin and convictions secured. Otherwise, talk remain cheap. As a country, we need to compliment the political will that’s now in abundance and not frustrate the President’s initiative,” he said.