Malawi: US, UK Concerned Over Interdiction Of Anti-Corruption Body Head
By Joseph Dumbula
Governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom have sternly condemned the Malawi government over events that relate to the interdiction Anti-Corruption Bureau head Martha Chizuma.
This came at a time when government said it was challenging a court order that stopped the suspension.
Chizuma was suspended on the office of the president and Cabinet, citing court proceedings on two charges relating to a leaked audio.
In an audio with an unknown person that was later leaked to social media, Chizuma said that high-ranking officials, including lawyers, a judge and government authorities, were hindering her fight against corruption.
This prompted some of the accused people, including former director of public prosecution Steven Kayuni, to file criminal charges against her.
But now, government’s initial contest against the court order has angered the international community which says the actions demonstrate lack of interest in ending corruption.
“The Embassy of the United States of America is deeply concerned by the series of actions by the Government of Malawi that have severely damaged the credibility of its fight against corruption,” the embassy said in a statement.
The US Embassy said that with the latest application against the court order, Chizuma had been harassed by authorities for two months, as she was first arrested in December.
“This step seeks to reinstitute the action by the Secretary to the President and Cabinet to interdict the Director General (Chizuma),” it added.
The embassy urged the Malawian government to actively pursue the fight against graft and not seek to intimidate those championing anti-corruption efforts.
“We have actively engaged senior government officials to seek renewed commitment to the fight against corruption, but those efforts have not yielded results.”
The embassy also underlined that the US’ shared commitment to Malawi’s development depended on trust that the southeastern African nation of about 18 million people would use public resources, including development funds, transparently, fairly, and with accountability.
On the other hand, Acting British High Commissioner to Malawi Sophia Willitts-King says the UK government shares concerns raised by the Malawi Law Society and other civic groups in relation to the matter.
Willitts-King noted that the partnership with the Government of Malawi is based on mutual respect, and a shared commitment to democracy, the protection of human rights, and the use of public funds in the interests of the people.
She added that corruption takes resources away from the people of this country, destroys business, damages public service, traps the poorest in poverty, and undermines future economic growth.
She further said that while the UK has strongly endorsed President Lazarus Chakwera’s anti-corruption drive and his consistent calls to respect the rule of law, the law, police and judicial system should not be used to frustrate the will of Malawians.