President Peter Mutharika’s appointment of Reyneck Matemba as Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general could be an opportunity to reshape an institution rocked in a perception crisis and help to reboot the fight against corruption.
The appointment of Matemba—currently the bureau’s deputy director general and a career public servant—is subject to confirmation by the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament.
Matemba, who has mainly been responsible for prosecutions at ACB and has played the lead role in the trials of several Cashgate cases, is set to replace his former boss Lucas Kondowe who opted not to renew his contract at expiry last month.
Matemba’s letter of appointment dated October 23 2017 and signed by Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara, which The Nation has seen, reads: “I write to inform you that it has pleased His Excellency the President to appoint you to the position of Director General.
“Please take note that your appointment is subject to your satisfying the Public Appointments Committee [PAC] of the National Assembly in line with Section 5 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act.”
In an interview yesterday, Matemba, a lawyer, said he was in receipt of the letter of his appointment and promised to comment further after his appearance before the Public Appointments Committee.
Matemba enters the high office after the controversial manner in which he recused himself as lead lawyer in the K1.7 billion corruption case of former president Bakili Muluzi.
His appointment comes at a time when the public perception of corruption and of ACB as a biased institution working under the influence of politically connected individuals is high.
Several independent surveys, including those by Transparency International, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) and our sister newspaper, Nation on Sunday, found that perceptions of the people are that corruption is on the rise and that the institution mostly targeted those not affiliated to political parties in power.
If confirmed, Matemba will have to contend with public demands for action on the K236 billion forensic audit and 13 files submitted to ACB for further investigations.
He will also have to navigate how best to work with Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale, who has had a shaky relationship with the ACB.
Matemba’s appointment follows Kondowe’s exit at the end of his contract that expired last month.
Before his appointment as ACB director general, Matemba worked at Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs where he served as assistant chief legislative counsel, Administrator General and in the Legal Aid Department now called Legal Aid Bureau.
Remarking on Matemba’s appointment, legal commentator Justin Dzonzi commended the appointment of someone from within the system as the President has done
“Having a director who is also a lawyer will assist in making quick decisions on prosecutions and investigations, his appointment will strengthen the ACB to prosecute matters competently,” he said. n