‘Amended law or not, ACB, DPP need good relations’

The recent amendment of the Corrupt Practices Act apparently to give the Anti-Corruption Bureau powers to prosecute without seeking consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions is not an absolute solution as long as state of warfare between the two offices continues. It is this fallout that triggered Parliament to amend the Corrupt Practices Act last…

The recent amendment of the Corrupt Practices Act apparently to give the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) powers to prosecute without seeking consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is not an absolute solution as long as state of warfare between the two offices continues.

There has been a poor working relationship between the DPP Steve Kayuni and ACB Director General Martha Chizuma since it emerged in January this year that Kayuni had denied ACB consent to prosecute businessman Zuneth Sattar’s agent, Ashok Nair, and four others.

The fallout has dragged on for months, even after President Lazarus Chakwera expressed his displeasure and tasked Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo to bring Kayuni and Chizuma to a roundtable for ceasefire.

It is this fallout that triggered Parliament to amend the Corrupt Practices Act last week.

But the Malawi Law Society (MLS) has warned the two agencies that they cannot do without collaboration in their line of work even in the face of the recently-passed Corrupt Practices Act Amendment Bill which President Chakwera is yet to assent to.

MLS president Patrick Mpaka called on the two offices to collaborate in their efforts to fight corruption.

“There is still a need for collaboration, with or without consent [to prosecute], because there are certain powers between the two offices that intersect. There is certain information that they should share and certain strategies that they need to share.

“What the consent really does is to free the hand of ACB to say if you want to start the case, then you do not have to wait for the office of the DPP but it does not take away the collaborative efforts,” he said.

Mpaka said the removal of consent does not remove the requirement for cooperation because in the end, they will be doing the same thing.

“It is just that ACB is focused on corruption-related cases. So, the bottom line is there is still a need for cooperation and collaboration within the two institutions,” he said.

Chairperson for the National Anti-Corruption Alliance, Moses Mkandawire, said the two authorities ought to desist from working with emotions on issues of national importance.

“All things being equal, I do not think seeking consent from the DPP is a problem. That mandate is derived from the Constitution. Let us not look at individuals because today there is Chizuma at ACB and Kayuni at DPP; tomorrow there might be different characters so the law cannot be made based on characters. At the end of the day, there is still need for collaboration and networking even though the consent has been removed.

“My thoughts are that firstly we should understand each other. The fight against corruption cannot be left to one institution; it requires collective efforts and networking. For our framers of the constitution to factor in the aspect of consent, it was one way of setting checks and balances. If we have a one-man show approach, this can work against our purpose to fight against corruption,” he said.

Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo admitted earlier that the continued battle of supremacy between DPP and ACB was frustrating the fight against corruption in the country.

“It is something that I, myself, am not happy with. I met them before but I will meet them again and see if we can find a permanent solution to this,” Mvalo said recently.

Two weeks ago, Kayuni also accused the ACB of working in isolation on a cement importation case in which some public officials are alleged to have used former president Peter Mutharika’s TPIN to import the commodity duty-free.

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