Parliamentâ€™s Public Appointments and Declaration of Assets Committee has rejected five of President Joyce Bandaâ€™s recent appointees, including Victor Banda who was appointed deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
The committee is said to have interviewed Banda last Wednesday, the same day it also interviewed three commissioners of the Health Service Commission who President Banda wanted to be on the commission to replace three people who were already confirmed in January this year.
In an interview on Monday, both committee chairperson Nick Masebo and Chief Secretary to the Government Bright Msaka could not divulge Bandaâ€™s fate, although some of the members of the committee corroborated the fact that Banda did not impress most of them during the interviews.
Masebo only confirmed that a decision was made on Banda and that it was communicated to the â€œappointing authorityâ€.
Said Masebo: â€œWhat I can confirm is that we had several activities, including interviewing Mr Banda. However, we are not the one to communicate our decision to the media. As a committee, we communicate through the appointing authority.â€
Msaka, on the other hand, said so far, his office has not yet received any report on the outcome of the interviews; hence, he could not comment further, including detailing the next steps given that the committeeâ€™s decision effectively cripples the bureauâ€™s operations.
ACB remains incapacitated
Banda, an accountant by profession who also holds a masterâ€™s degree in strategic management, is currently serving as an assistant director of ACB responsible for operations.
The rejection of Banda means that the ACB will remain incapacitated following uncertainties over the post of the director as the incumbent, Alex Nampotaâ€™s position, still hangs in limbo. He was arrested on June 28 2012 on abuse of office related charges.
According to Section 5 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA), after being appointed by the President, both the director and the deputy are supposed to be confirmed by the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament.
Section 8 (1) of the CPA stipulates that if the office of the director is vacant or the director is absent from duty or unable for any other reason to perform the functions of his or her office, the deputy director shall act. But the bureau has not had a deputy director for several years.
In the absence of both the director and deputy director, section 8 (2) states that the President shall appoint another duly qualified person to act as director during such temporary absence or vacancy.
â€œProvided that where the period of such temporary absence has exceeded 21 days, the President shall, within 14 days thereafter, furnish the Public Appointments Committee the reasons why the vacancy in both or either of the two offices cannot be substantively filled with immediate effect and an estimate of the time within which the vacancy shall be filled, being not longer than three months from the expiry of the period of 21 days herein referred to,â€ reads the section in part.
In a related development, the unsuccessful candidates who President Banda earmarked as commissioners at the Health Service Commission include Betty Pwetekani, Reverend Daniel Gunya and Rose Namarika.
According to the appointing letter from Msaka to the Clerk of Parliament dated July 12 2012, the three appointees were set to replace Winson Gideon Bomba, Felesia Chawani and Gibson Masache on the nine-member commission.
The three were already confirmed by the committee alongside six others on January 27 2012, according to communication we have seen from Parliament to the Chief Secretary to Government.
The other six are Lilian Debora Ngâ€™oma, Dr. Edward Dzanjalimodzi, Beaton Munthali, Dr. Patrick Watayachanga Chirwa, Dr. George Michael Ganiza and Lennie Adeline Kamwendo.
Meanwhile, another officer rejected on the same day was Jane Kambalame who was appointed Malawiâ€™s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe.
Masebo also declined to comment on the other appointees.