Twists & turns as Police formally charge, release ACB’s Chizuma on bail

Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Martha Chizuma

Tuesday was quite an eventful day as people woke up to the news of the arrest of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma by the Malawi Police Service as early as 4 am.

Information regarding her arrest was quite sketchy as her whereabouts remained unclear but it later transpired that she was in custody at Namitete Police, some 48 kilometres away from Malawi’s Capital city Lilongwe.

As people were still coming to grips with the arrest of the ACB’s boss and the motives behind, Parliament was set to start meeting at the traditional 930 a.m.

On the order paper business was set to start with Questions on Notice to Ministers for oral replies.

But the opposition parliamentarians thought the arrest of Chizuma should be prioritised at all costs as there were more questions than answers especially with the manner it was effected.

Against this background, Parliament waived all standing orders to discuss the issue.

Mvalo: The arrest was done behind government’s back

Justice Minister Titus Mvalo told the house that Chizuma’s capture is the work of those trying to frustrate the fight against corruption and that government condemns it.

Feigning ignorance, he added that the arrest was done behind government’s back and that he only knew about it this morning and informed members that the ACB czar has been released unconditionally.

Rumphi East Kamlepo Kalua accused Mvalo of lying arguing there is something that government is hiding.

He challenged government has to show that it is competent and in control of things.

United Democratic Front (UDF) President Lilian Patel said it is unfair to arrest Chizuma wondering why this was done in the wee hours of the day.

She said she will join all the women to demonstrate against the move.

Musowa (M) How can the police insist on picking her up without first giving her time to dress up?

Machinga East legislator Esther Jolobala called on Mvalo to resign saying he has failed.

Controversial Mzimba North parliamentarian Yeremiah Chihana then called for suspension of deliberations for the lawmakers to follow up on the incident.

He further alleged that Chizuma has been assaulted by a female police officer.

Mulanje Bale’s Victor Musowa disclosed that he is traumatised as he accompanied the Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee to see the ACB Director General at the Namitete Police Station.

“We found her literally crying. How can the police insist on picking her up without first giving her time to dress up? It's bad to be in Malawi now. You may think I am just politicising this issue. Madam Speaker, I request that the Legal Affairs Committee Chair be given a chance to share what we found out there," he said.

Chizuma's warrant of arrest

The house was temporarily adjourned for 40 minutes and when it resumed, Leader of Government business Richard Chimwendo-Banda announced that the adjournment be extended to 2 pm.

This was agreed to by the Leader of the Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa to enable authorities furnish the house with a report of the arrest.

According to the Police, the detention follows a complaint lodged by the Director of Public Prosecutions  Steve Kayuni who said he was injured by allegations made by the ACB Director General in a leaked audio clip in January, 2022.

High Court Judge Anabel Mtalimanja ruled in September, 2022 that any individual or party that felt aggrieved by contents of the leaked audio clip could proceed to complain to police for criminal action against the ACB Director General.

“Ms. Chizuma has since been charged with making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings which is contrary to section 113 (1) (d) of the Penal Code,” reads  a statement signed by  Police publicist Peter Kalaya.