Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has emerged the top candidate for the post of director general of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)—and, if confirmed by Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee (PAC), she becomes its first female head.
Impeccable sources have told Weekend Nation that President Lazarus Chakwera settled for Chizuma out of the three names submitted to him by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Titus Mvalo.
The source said the other two candidates were private-practice lawyer Wellington Kazembe and retired justice of appeal Anthony Kamanga.
Mvalo, in a telephone interview on Friday, confirmed sending the three names to the President on Thursday, but said he was not aware who has been picked.
“I sent the three names to the President, but I do not have any information or communication in terms of who has been picked,” he said.
Presidential press secretary Brian Banda could not confirm on Friday, if indeed the President has picked Chizuma, saying “when the President makes the appointment, we shall let you know”.
Thirty-seven candidates had applied for the post of director general at ACB, which fell vacant last year, and 10 were shortlisted for interviews conducted by an all-inclusive panel last weekend—from which three names were shortlisted for submission to the President.
The amended Corrupt Practices Act sends a maximum of three names to the President from which he has to appoint one who is subjected to PAC’s confirmation.
Chizuma boasts of an impressive record in public service; she has served as a magistrate, assistant registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court, deputy chairperson of the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) and now Ombudsman.
In an interview, former ACB boss Alexious Nampota described the post as extremely challenging, saying it is a position without which the ACB cannot operate.
He said it is for this reason that the law requires that if there is a vacancy, it has to be filled within a stipulated timeframe because the presence of the director general matters a lot.
“The bureau can effectively perform its functions if the position of director general is not interfered with by political masters,” said Nampota.
He said ACB currently fails to perform better because of what he called “national collusion where even the citizenry and their representatives remain silent when things go wrong at the bureau”.
Nampota argued that the law provides that if the President removes the ACB director such a decision should be subjected to PAC’s confirmation—but apparently, this provision has been violated more than once without question.