Thu, 08 Jun 2023

Malawi Drops Charges Against Anti-Corruption Chief

Voice of America
13 Feb 2023, 04:05 GMT+10

BLANTYRE, Malawi - Malawi has dropped criminal charges against Anti-Corruption Bureau Director-General Martha Chizuma in connection with leaked audio in which she apparently complained that some officials were frustrating her fight against corruption.

Director of Public Prosecutions Masauko Chamkakala said in a statement that he has discontinued the criminal case against Chizuma in line with the Malawi Constitution and to ensure that the functions of the Anti-Corruption Bureau are not impeded.

Chizuma was facing two counts of criminal defamation after two top officials she mentioned in a leaked audio as among those hindering her investigations sued her.

The lawsuits led the government to suspend Chizuma until the court case is concluded.

FILE - Martha Chizuma works at her desk before talking to Agence France-Presse in her office in Lilongwe, Malawi, Sept. 9, 2019. FILE - Martha Chizuma works at her desk before talking to Agence France-Presse in her office in Lilongwe, Malawi, Sept. 9, 2019.

Malawi Anti-Graft Chief Suspended Over Leaked Audio Clip

The withdrawal of charges comes a few days after the United States and other international donors accused Malawi of fighting anti-corruption champions instead of corruption.

In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe condemned what it called harassment of Chizuma.

It also said the Malawi government was waging a campaign of intimidation against the country's anti-corruption chief.

But the Malawi government denied those accusations.

Chizuma's lawyer, Martha Kaukonde, told VOA that she has taken the news of withdrawal of charges with a pinch of salt, as similar past announcements never materialized.

"As you recall, the same pronouncements were made by the minister of justice a month ago and then nothing changed. We wrote to the minister but there was no formal withdrawal. So we are just waiting for a formal withdrawal," she said.

However, Chamkakala said he has advised the secretary to the president and cabinet, Colleen Zamba, to reconsider her decision to suspend Chizuma.

In the meantime, lawyers the government hired this week to challenge an injunction against the suspension of Chizuma say they have withdrawn their appeal, which had been expected to be heard Monday.

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