President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday criticised Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee (PAC) for rejecting Martha Chizuma as Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general and asked the House to reconsider the position.
Earlier, minutes before the President delivered his State of the Nation Address (Sona), the House passed a motion compelling PAC to report back to Parliament reasons behind the rejection of Chizuma, whose stellar performance as Ombudsman made her a public favourite.
However, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) protested the tabling of the motion as an interference in the processes of an independent committee, but with pressure mounting from civil society groups and the public for answers on why the committee rejected Chizuma, Chakwera walked the aisle and waded into the debate.
The President lamented the move as detrimental to the quest for public accountability through governance institutions that are well-equipped and “well-led”.
Said Chakwera: “Without strong and brave leaders at the helm of oversight and law enforcement bodies like the Malawi Police Service, the ACB, the Malawi Revenue Authority, the Financial Intelligence Authority, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets, the Directorate of Public Prosecution, the National Audit Office, and the Office of the Ombudsman, our declaration of war against corruption will remain cosmetic at best.
“In this regard, I must register my dismay and disappointment with the Public Appointments Committee of this House for its recent decision to reject my appointee for the post of director general for ACB.
“ I, therefore, call on this House to put political and personal interests aside and do its part in accelerating the change Malawians fought for.”
Minutes earlier, by voice acclamation, Parliament had adopted a motion compelling the committee to report back to the House reasons for rejecting Chizuma.
During the debate, parliamentary Public Accounts Committee chairperson Shadreck Namalomba protested against the motion, citing Section 101 of the Standing Orders that says the House should not discuss committee reports before they are presented in the House.
In an inter view, a former senior member of the House’s Business Committee who spoke on condition of anonymity, however faulted the motion as “unprocedural” and against House traditions.
Said the former senior member: “Everything that has happened today is procedurally wrong. Committees of Parliament have their own procedures.
“The House should have waited for a committee report and not act on social media sentiments. The Speaker could have summoned the committee chairperson and asked for the report to be expedited.”
Much of Chakwera’s 45-paged Sona outlined p l ans on t a c k l ing corruption and wastage of public resources.