"I personally like Martha Chizuma and I think she is both capable and qualified for the job"
President Lazarus Chakwera's fight against corruption is under threat as some of his own senior cabinet ministers are said to have been part of the plot to reject Ombudsman Martha Chizuma as the new director of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)
Nyasa Times can exclusively reveal that just minutes after the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) of Parliament rejected Chizuma, who president Chakwera appointed to lead the war against corruption, two senior cabinet ministers reached out to PAC chair, Joyce Chitsulo to congratulate her and her members for the 'good job' well executed.
A highly placed impeccable source confided in Nyasa Times that two senior but influential cabinet ministers (names withheld) phoned and texted PAC chairlady Joyce Chitsulo and commended her for doing a great job in rejecting one of the country's legal bulldozer who have been keeping criminals' purses running at a double.
"The plot to reject Chizuma was orchestrated within the MCP and a sabotage from the opposition parties as some people want it to look like. Some corrupt people in the ruling see Chizuma as a threat and that once she becomes the boss for the country's graft-fighting body, they will be busted.
"All this Chizuma resistance is coming from the declaration the president made that he will protect anyone in his government found on the wrong side of the law," said the source.
The source further revealed that when President Chakwera met Chizuma to discuss her ACB appointment, he made it clear that he would not interfere with the operations of ACB as he wants corruption to kiss goodbye in the country.
Said the source: "The only reason Chizuma agreed to take up the Anti-Corruption Bureau's top job was that the president promised her total independence. The president made it clear that there are not going to be any sacred cows."
"Chizuma is caught in a political cobweb where because most of the politicians, especially in the ruling camp are not comfortable with her. They want someone they can easily twist their arm."
The source said president Chakwera needs to seriously vet his ministers and be able to know who he can give his 'sword of trust" to.
In an interview with Nyasa Times Saturday night, PAC chairman Joyce Chitsulo asked why the two cabinet ministers contacted her to congratulate her for her committee's refusal to confirm Chizuma as a the ACB chief, she could neither deny nor confirm the matter.
Chitsulo said: "I am not going to answer that question."
Pressed as to what exactly Chizuma failed during the interview as she does not only hold higher qualifications and a traceable good work experience but also has an impeccable record and that her achievements as Ombudsman are glaringly telling, Chitsulo said she couldn't really tell because she has no idea as to how each member of the committee scored her during the interview.
"I personally like Martha Chizuma and I think she is both capable and qualified for the job and if it was in my power, I would confirm her as ACB director but as you know this is politics," she said.
However, in one breath, Chitsulo said the decision to reject Chizuma was individualistic as each member scored the interviewee secretly and that she doesn't know how each member scored.
And yet, in another breath, she said the decision to reject Chizuma's confirmation was a collective decision by the committee after adding all the individual scores from the members to get an overall average scoring.
She was then asked that how did they add up the members' scores, which according to her were secret and that she didn't even see them, putting it to her that it impossible to to add figures one hasn't seen, Chitsulo who dodged the question and digressed, said:
"All I am saying is that it is not my fault as some people are putting it. It was a group decision but as a chairperson I shoulder the responsibility."
Chitsulo condemned some members of her committee for being unprofessional on matter as they divulged some of the sensitive information on social media.
She said: "It is very unfortunate that some members took the matter to social media. It is childish and unprofessional to take confidential information to social media."
Nyasa Times unearthed some of the questions the committee asked Chizuma as part of the confirmation process and the very first question they asked her was:
"Are you going to re-arrest Bakili Muluzi and take him to court if confirmed as ACB director, as you know this case has been running forever?"
In her reply, Chizuma told the panel that she will have to access the case file and see the evidence in order to determine whether or not to proceed with the case.
Another question was.
"When DPP was in power, you never held them any wrongdoing but now they are out of government you are picking on them, and are you going to do the same with MCP?"
In her response, Chizuma who is currently the reigning public protector, told the committee that she doesn't look at political parties when making determination but act on complaints brought her and said that in her many determinations she has made determinations against the government, which at that time was DPP.
And on the final part of the question, Chizuma told the panel that her job was to prevent and fight corruption regardless of who is involved.
There are reports that some members of the committee including a senior cabinet minister have had been invited to a dinner party in Area 9 in Lilongwe prior to Chizuma's interview where they pocketed K4 million each for them to jinx the confirmation as they see Chizuma as a threat and they believe that once confirmed as boss, she would take them to the cleaners.
Legal expert Sunduzwayo Madise, who is popularly known as Mfundisi, a senior law lecturer and former Dean of Law at Chancellor College, weighing in on the matter opined on social media on his Facebook page:
"PAC's job is not interview people but to confirm them after they successfully pass their job interviews," said Madise.
South African-based Law professor Danwood Chirwa said: "(Martha) Chizuma is the right candidate for the job and she ticks in all the boxes. She is passionate about fighting injustice and she is professionally sound. I don't see any reason why she has not been confirmed.
Meanwhile, MCP's parliamentarian for Dowa North-east Sam Kawale has moved a motion in which he is asking PAC to rescind its decision not to confirm Martha Chizuma as ACB director and consequently reconsider her appointment.
President Chakwera appointed Chizuma as ACB director after she emerged tops among ten other candidates, all men in interviews for the graft-busting top spot.