By Linda Kwanjana
Barely a couple of weeks after the Anti Corruption Bureau cleared State House chief of staff from any wrongdoing, a cross section of society is rising to applaud President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera for his quick decision to reinstate him into office.
The common denominator in all this is that the President’s decision has been informed by natural justice and the rule of law as per his governance philosophy.
Since he entered the political fray back in 2013, President Chakwera made it clear that he will use Rule of Law as a guiding principle to ensure that the country’s administrative and legal systems function in line with Constitutionalism.
It therefore did not come as a major surprise when last year in May he suspended Kapondamgaga to allow the ACB carry out a full investigation on the Zuneth Sattar matter.
Similarly, the ACB’s decision to let the Chief of Staff off the hook and the President’s decision to bring him back to office speak loudly into adherence towards Constitutional matters.
An influential quasi-religious grouping, Public Affairs Committee, has agreed with the decision, labelling it an act of fairness and natural justice.
“Any person in this country is innocent until proven otherwise by the court. So, in this case, we will be very hesitant as Public Affairs Committee to condemn or not to condemn the President because he is following the rule of law in that particular regard,” PAC spokesperson Bishop Gilford Matonga told a local daily on Wednesday.
Renowned legal expert Lord Denning, writing under his famous moniker Queen’s Bench, also opined in agreement saying what has happened since last year is proof that President Chakwera respects the law to the letter.
“It is in that logical sense, therefore, that the Public Affairs Committee has commended President Chakwera for his decision to reinstate the Chief of Staff saying morphing his provisional suspension into permanent dismissal would be unfair and brutal to the concerned official. The Queens Bench wholly agree,” wrote Lord Denning on his personal blog.
He added: “By strongly recommending to the OPC to review the Public Service Regulations in respect of the Presidential Directive that provisionally suspended the Chief of Staff, the ACB was directly communicating that if the OPC suspended any public official solely based on the investigations that the ACB was undertaking against such public officials, those investigations are closed with no charges sustained.”
Kapondamgaga was suspended alongside the then Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) chairperson John Suzi- Banda who resigned two weeks later.
The ACB’s report also implicated Vice President Saulos Chilima, former Inspector General of Police George Kainja and 53 other public officers.
While Kainja was fired, Chakwera withheld Chilima’s delegated powers pending the ACB’s investigations.
The ACB arrested Kainja on June 23 2022 for receiving an advantage from Sattar to influence a procurement contract reference number MPS/SB/16/04/2021 to supply 350,000 food ration packs worth US$7,785,000.