Malawi: HRDC Announce Protest Against Rejection of Chizuma As ACB Boss

The decision of the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) to reject Ombudsman Martha Chizuma as the new Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) director has annoyed scores of Malawians with most ranting that the Committee's pronouncement is a massive drawback in as far as fighting graft in the country is concerned.

Barely three hours after the verdict of Chizuma's rejection was made known to the public, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has announced that it will stage a march to parliament next week--on May 18--to "bring back our Martha Chizuma."

On various social media platforms especially Facebook hashtags: #MarthaChizumaDeservesACBjob and #JusticeForMarthaChizuma, among others, are trending.

'PAC compromised'

Most social commentators said they were shocked that Chizuma who by far is regarded as one of the country's most competent public officers was rejected by the committee.

Social commentator Pemphero Mphande said there was "no way Chizuma would have failed the interview after being the only person who seems to be fighting corruption without fear or favour."

Nyasa Times understands that the Committee which mostly comprises members of the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had been pre-determining their verdict against Chizuma for weeks.

Nine of the 18 members of the committee who made it to the confirmation meeting scored Chizuma 1 out of 25, an outcome most Malawians find quite questionable.

Another social commentator, Jackson Msiska, said he was "not really

surprised" with the committee's decision considering its composition.

The committee comprises 6 members from the DPP, 5 from MCP, 1 from UTM, 1 from UDF, 1 from Aford and 6 independent MPs.

'Scared of Chizuma'

Msiska mentioned to Nyasa Times in an interview that PAC's decision was surely as a result of the fear most politicians have for Chizuma based on her impeccable track record in fighting corruption.

"Those people represent their parties and surely they would want to protect their colleagues from Chizuma because she is a no-nonsense in as far as fighting graft is concerned," said Msiska.

Prior to appearing before the committee Chizuma said she wanted "to use the Anti-Corruption Bureau as a tool to make Malawians uncomfortable with corruption."

Recently in her report, 'Secure in Deception', Chizuma's inquiry into the shady recruitment at the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) makes a whopping six mentions of Zangazanga Chikhosi, Secretary to President and Cabinet (SPC), how he facilitated nepotistic Peter Mutharika's illegal recruits.

Journalist James Chavula wondered that "how he [Chikhosi] got his mighty hands at a vehicle he is using "up to now" is a numbing David-vs-Uriah masterclass on everything senior public servants ought not to do when approached by aggrieved juniors trampled upon by the system."

Chikhosi, who has recently been quashed for executive arrogance, would be one of Chizuma's hit-list should she be made ACB czar.

'Government equally shocked'

Minister of Information and government spokesman, Gospel Kazako, said they were "equally shocked" with the Committee's decision to reject Chizuma.

"We thought they [PAC] would have no qualms at all in confirming her," said Kazako.

In an interview with the press, PAC chairperson, Joyce Chitsulo, said they had made their decision as committee and would forward the results to the head of state who has the final say.

"We made our decision, and it will be up to the President to either take it or not. He has the final say," said Chitsulo.

Meanwhile social activist Idriss Ali Nassah has asked all Malawians of goodwill to come in their numbers on Tuesday next week.

"We will fix this country, brick by brick," Nassah wrote on his Facebook wall.

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