Faced with criticism that his administration is systematically stifling the anti-graft drive, President Lazarus Chakwera on Monday declared that Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma has his full support.
Responding to questions on the growing public perception that some government agencies were working to frustrate the ACB in its investigation on United Kingdom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar, the President also appealed to the citizenry to allow the bureau to work independently.
Chakwera, speaking during a late night press conference following his four-day State visit to Mozambique, said as a law-abiding President, he does not interfere in the operations of the ACB. In this regard, he said he did not expect anyone to interfere in the functions of the bureau.
The President described himself as a fighter and stressed that he strongly believes in Chizuma’s capabilities such that he appointed her to the position amid opposition in the National Assembly where a committee initially rejected her.
His sentiments come against a background of tension between the offices of the Attorney General (AG) and Directorate of Public Prosecutions on one hand and the ACB on the other.
In the latest episode of the cold war between the institutions, last week, on instructions from AG Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, DPP Steven Kayuni wrote the police to investigate Chizuma over her leaked conversation that discussed some ongoing investigations. However, the police later suspended the scheduled interview.
The AG’s office had earlier also issued an amnesty against suspects of corruption, a development that was widely seen as a slap in the face of the corruption fight before the President later said the amnesty needed more consultation.
In his response on Monday, Chakwera said the Ministry of Justice was tasked to bring sanity and ensure that the respective agencies were in sync.
He said: “I want government agencies to be speaking to each other in case of misunderstanding. Dialogue clears misunderstandings and that is what I promote.
“Being President doesn’t mean I should be everything. We need to create functional systems because the President cannot be everywhere. I want to be a President who follows the law.”
On making public the Tonse Alliance deal sealed ahead of the court-sanctioned Fresh Presidential Election held on June 23 2020, the President said he needed to consult other partners to agree if it was worth sharing.
His response was in contrast to what Vice-President Saulos Chilima stated on Friday on his departure for the United States of America. The Veep said at an opportune time the contents of the deal would be made public.
On expenditures Malawi incurred for hosting the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Heads of State and Government Summit last August, one of the issues raised in the Nkhoma Synod of the CCAP pastoral letter issued on Sunday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nancy Tembo said the report will be released this week.
Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola also chipped in on the Malawi-Mozambique Power Interconnection project, saying Malawi will start tapping the initial 50 megawatts (MW) of the 110MW by December 2023 because the powerline and other infrastructure are yet to be constructed.
Chakwera said that during the State visit, Malawi and Mozambique also agreed to intensify cooperation in transport infrastructure development.
Said the President: “This includes the speedy reconstruction and rehabilitation of a 26-kilometre railway line from Marka Border to Nsanje Railway Station in Malawi with a view to linking it to the Sena Railway Line in Mozambique.”
Chakwera also said he asked Mozambique to allocate Malawi some land at Nacala Port where Malawi will establish a cargo centre.
The President returned from Mozambique on Sunday afternoon.