Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday passed a motion which could lead towards removing powers of the President to appoint the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director and deputy.
The independence of ACB has been a bone of contention since its establishment and calls have intensified each time the President has unceremoniously removed a director.
Once again the opposition’s power in numbers became apparent in the House when 75 votes to carry the motion were cast against 67 of the government MPs with 51 absentees from both sides.
Lilongwe South West MP Peter Chakhwantha moved the motion that an amendment bill be drafted to change Section 5 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act to provide for appointment of the ACB director and deputy by the Public Appointment Committee (PAC) not the President as it stands now.
Chakhwantha said the appointment should be based on merit and through an open recruitment process.
“By giving the President absolute powers, it is heavily politicising the office of the ACB. The appointment should not be left in the hands of a politician whose orders are duly influenced by the presidency. The ACB is in office at the pleasure of the President and we cannot continue to act like that in this country,” Chakhwantha said.
Seconder of the motion, Lilongwe Mapuyu South Joseph Njobvuyalema, also faulted the drafting of the CPA Section 5 (1).
However, after much debate on whether the motion should have been tabled at all and if it was necessary to introduce amendments to it, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu led its opposition, arguing that powers of the President to appoint were entrenched in the Constitution.
In calling for the rejection of the motion, Tembenu said ACB belongs to the Executive arm of government and removing the President’s powers to appoint a director would be a “travesty of the doctrine of separation [of power].”