…no case against Chizuma, enjoys immunity
…Police rapped for acting illegally
In a landmark ruling that could change the fight against corruption, Justice Mike Tembo has declared that the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) enjoys immunity under section 22 of the Corrupt Practices Act, that she cannot be a subject of any action or proceeding unless there is an allegation of bad faith.
Justice Tembo agreed with the Malawi Law Society that it was not in the public interest for the Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba to interdict ACB Director General Martha Chizuma after a case was commenced by the Malawi Police Service.
“It was therefore unlawful that the 3rd defendant, being a person other than the President, sought to suspend the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau from performing the functions of the office of Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau,” ruled Tembo.
According to the High Court, the case did not even exist as Chizuma enjoys immunity.
“No allegation of bad faith has been raised against the Director in relation to the criminal proceeding in the present matter. And, no prior application was made to remove the immunity. It is clear in the premises, that the criminal proceeding commenced by the 1st defendant before the 2nd defendant was similarly null and void for having been commenced without addressing the question of immunity of the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau in terms of her alleged action in relation to the leaked audio herein being in bad faith,” ruled Justice Tembo.
He went on to say that the conduct of the Malawi Police impaired the independent work of the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, as indicated by the Malawi Law Society.
On Zamba, the Judge said she overstepped her authority when she interdicted or suspended Chizuma.
“The decision of the 3rd defendant interdicting or suspending the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau from performing functions of the office of Director of Anti-Corruption Bureau is therefore null and void for illegality due to overstepping of authority since the 3rd defendant had no authority whatsoever to suspend the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
“The 3rd defendant usurped the powers of the President under the Corrupt Practices Act. This is not allowed and is to be checked by judicial review proceedings,” ruled Justice Tembo.
The court ruled that Zamba failed to appreciate that she could only exercise the authority of her office to the extent provided by the law as the Constitution prescribes.
Zamba has been accused of overstepping her powers and has openly defied Parliament, making the public question her powers that seem to be beyond the President. It will be seen if President Lazarus Chakwera will act after a court found her decision unlawful.