MALAWI. Lilongwe: The Malawi Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee on May 17 confirmed the appointment of Martha Chizuma as the first woman to head the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), the country’s state-funded corruption fighting body.
The parliamentary committee had earlier rejected Chizuma’s confirmation by giving her a score of 14.9 from a minimum rating of 17.
But a member of the committee, Sam Kawale, a parliamentarian from President Lazarus Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP), moved a motion to table have the rejection revisited.
Out of 17 members of the committee, all of whom are elected members of Parliament, 12 agreed with the appointment; 4 members of the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) walked out and one member abstained.
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Chizuma was appointed by president Lazarus Chakwera after successfully beating nine male counterparts during the technical interview.
According to Malawi laws, parliament confirms the appointment of heads of state institutions like the police.
After the initial rejection of Chizuma, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), a grouping which led the demonstrations against the running of the 2019 presidential elections had planned protests on May 18th. It wanted to force Parliament to rescind its decision. The protests were cancelled after her confirmation was announced.
A women’s NGO consortium, the NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN), together with the Women Lawyers Association, National Advocacy Platform, and the HRDC has expressed displeasure. They had written to the Speaker of Parliament requesting minutes of what had transpired during the first meeting which rejected Chizuma’s appointment.
Who is Martha Chizuma
She is a graduate of law from the University of Malawi, and holds a Masters in International Economic Law from the University of East Anglia.
She had been a commissioner for Malawi Human Rights Commission, responsible for economic and social rights, disability, the elderly and child rights.
Chizuma had also worked in Malawi’s private and public sector as a lawyer.
As the Country’s ombudsman, Chizuma tackled mismanagement in parastatals and state institutions.
The Anti Corruption Bureau in Malawi was established by an Act of Parliament in 1994.
Among other high profile cases, Chizuma will have to handle those involving former Presidents Bakili Muluzi and Peter Mutharika on alleged corruption while in office.