Martha Chizuma has emerged head of Malawi’s anti-graft agency, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). Chizuma was appointed by president Lazarus Chakwera after successfully beating nine male counterparts to the position during the selection process.
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 corruption fighting body.
Chizuma’s confirmation was initially declined after parliamentary committee scored her 14.9 from a minimum rating of 17.
A member of the committee, Sam Kawale, a parliamentarian from President Lazarus Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) moved a motion to have the rejection revisited.
Out of 17 members of the committee, 12 members agreed with the appointment; 4 members of the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) walked out and one member abstained.
Like some other African countries, Malawi laws mandate parliament to confirm 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 demonstrations on May 18th. It wanted to force Parliament to rescind its decision. The protests were cancelled after Chizuma’s confirmation was announced.
The NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN) along with the Women Lawyers Association, National Advocacy Platform, and the HRDC had expressed displeasure and written to the Speaker of Parliament requesting minutes of what had transpired during the first meeting which rejected Chizuma’s appointment.
Chizuma is expected to handle, among others, alleged graft cases involving former Presidents Bakili Muluzi and Peter Mutharika.
Martha Chizuma 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.