Lifestyle OP-ED 

Talking Blues: Who are we not to free Barabas and crucify Jesus?

ACB Czar Martha Chizuma makes first public appearance after dramatic arrest – Shire Times

By Mapwiya Muulupale

Everyone has formed their own opinion on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on the arrest of Ms Martha Chizuma, the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), on Tuesday, 6 December 2022.

I don’t have an opinion as yet, just many unanswered questions.

Central in the saga is Dr Stephen Kayuni. If the submissions made by Police Officers are to be believed, the Police acted solely on his complaint and implied instructions.

As per the same COI report, Dr Kayuni has a potential case of temporary embezzlement that attracted the ACB’s interest. The report says in June 2021, Dr Kayuni was paid MK 5,512,500 in travel allowances for a trip he didn’t make.

He offered to pay back, but for 18 months, he never did. At the time of the Inquiry, he had repaid only MK3,543,750 and was still owing MK1,968,750.

In my view, this temporary embezzlement disqualifies him from holding an office as senior as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Look here, although Greek poet cum scholar Callimachus (c.305–c.240 bc) suggested sending a thief to catch a thief, and while some may argue that an old poacher makes the best gamekeeper, no country recruits law enforcers from jail.

Law enforcers, if anything, must be beyond reproach and be the last to set bad examples.

In addition to the above, Dr Kayuni failed to recuse himself in a case involving his uncle. Had the wise members of the COI bothered to review the minutes of Dr Kayuni’s meeting with Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, they would have found his admission to be related to Mr Kezzie Msukwa.

You may wonder: what is the relevance of the temporary embezzlement and the failure to recuse in a case involving a relation?

Easy-peasy, these are at the core of the ‘bad blood’ between Dr Kayuni and Ms Chizuma.

While one knows he has skeletons loudly rattling in his cupboard vis-à-vis the unrepaid travel allowances, the other vowed to prioritize current corruption. To defend himself, the one with a guilty conscience needs pre-emptive strikes to neutralize the hunter.

That is why the hunter has become the hunted.

Regarding ACB versus his uncle, before Parliament pulled the ladder from under his feet by removing the requirement for the DPP’s consent, Dr Kayuni had everything under control. Technicalities, incomplete documents and what have you were pretexts he used to sabotage ACB.

After Parliament’s intervention, he had no choice. Ms Chizuma had to go.

These are Dr Kayuni’s motives for initiating the arrest of 6 December 2022.

Come to think of it, these motives are so obvious that even a blind man can “see” them for what they are. Now, how do we explain how and why the wise, religious and learned members of the so-called Commission of Inquiry missed them?

Simple: the Commission had one and only one premeditated mission: bringing Ms Chizuma down at any cost. Hence recommending “that the State respects the decision of the court given the various rights of the people that may be injured by the corruption allegations in the leaked audio.”

In short: Fire her! Lock her up!

Have you noted how the Commission – afraid of opening Pandoras Box – conveniently omitted to summon one Anderson Mwakyelu to grill him and get to the bottom of the matter?

For me, shocking is the Biblical analogy. A Commission appointed to “establish the truth about what led to and the circumstances around the arrest of Ms Martha Chizuma – ACB DG on Tuesday 6 December 2022” somehow, determines that the victim is the one who belongs in jail.

But what about “Barabas”?

What about the one who embezzled millions and is conflicted on all matters related to Sattar and his uncle? Given half a chance, I have no doubt the Commission would pat him on the back for a job well done and a game well played.

What about Anderson Mwakyelu?

Suffice it to say that, like Barabas, the Commission is giving both Dr Kayuni and one Anderson Mwakwelu free passes at the expense of an innocent person.

The billion-dollar question then becomes: why is ‘Barabas’ receiving preferential treatment?

Reading the Commission’s report between the lines helps solve this riddle.

In fact, ACB Deputy Director Elias Bodole’s testimony is a good starting point. He “informed the Commission that since the Sattar case, the ACB has been having difficulties getting the usual assistance they used to get from the offices of the AG and the DPP”.

He further told the Commission that the ACB could not proceed with cases related to Mr Zunneth Sattar due to the delay in the AG issuance of the letter asking for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) from the British Authorities.

Asked about this, all that Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda – the Attorney General (AG), could say was:

“My comment is that I won’t comment on this issue because I won’t jeopardize cases, but something is happening on the issue.”

From media reports, the ACB made the request more than ten months ago.

From all this, it is difficult to not conclude that the AG and Dr Kayuni were operating in lockstep.

Hence my next question: If President Chakwera would want us to believe he is serious about fighting corruption, why is his appointee – the whole Attorney General – blocking the ACB?

Questions begetting questions.

Following the above question, since the Commission gave itself the liberty of straying onto matters it was not appointed for, how did it fail to explore if Dr Kayuni – compromised left right and centre – was acting solely in self-interest or was serving someone’s interest? Why did it not probe Anderson Mwakyelu?

You know what?

This might be the crux of the matter because,

~ since there is no wisdom in applying the adage ‘set a thief to catch a thief’ in senior or any government appointments and retention, Dr Kayuni’s predicaments must be why he is everyone’s darling; and

~ since Anderson might spill some unpalatable beans is why no one wants his testimony on record.

Remember Ms Helen Buluma’s sworn testimony and allegations against Ms Colleen Zamba? You know that Ms Zamba is yet to refute those serious allegations under oath, not so? Now, who can believe that Ms Zamba is, as we speak, still the Secretary to the President and Cabinet?

But there she is, serving the President.

Yet, given that Ms Buluma’s sworn testimony and allegations remain unchallenged, she has no business in that office until she clears her name lest she taints that office.

Now look:

• Dr Kayuni, compromised, is nevertheless allowed to continue serving as DPP. The result is the mess we are witnessing and the innocent suffering.

• Ms Zamba, equally compromised, is nevertheless allowed to continue as SPC. Further, there is no effort or pressure applied to force her to clear her name in front of Parliament. Should we expect anything good?

Both, by the way, are hired and/or fired at the prerogative of the President.

Are you pondering what I am pondering regarding whose interest(s) they serve?

Anyway, let us free ‘Barabas’ and crucify ‘Jesus’.

After all, it was ordained by the oracle and came to pass circa 2,000 years ago. Then who are we to free “Jesus” when a Commission comprised of learned counsels, honourable folks, esteemed emeritus this and that, and for Chris’ sake, hitherto respected members of the clergy insist otherwise?

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