Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera announced the dismissal of the Director of Public Prosecution, Steven Kayuni, for allegedly abusing his office to avenge what he saw as a personal slight.
The president was reacting to the findings of a commission of inquiry he had established last month to investigate the circumstances that led to the arrest of the country’s anti-corruption chief, Martha Chizuma, the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
The commission found that Chizuma was arrested a few days after Kanyuni complained to police that he felt criminally injured by statements Chizuma made in January 2022. In the audio that was leaked to social media, Chizuma said that high-ranking officials, including lawyers, a judge and government authorities, were hindering her fight against corruption.
The president considered how Kayuni handled his feelings against Chizuma as an “act of unsound judgment by Kayuni to be a breach of public trust”.
“It is a serious matter for Malawi’s lead prosecutor to have a moment of unsound judgment or a conflict of interest. So, I consider this a great failure for Dr Kayuni and a great disappointment to me. For this reason, as the appointing authority for that important office, I summoned Kayuni to express to him my great displeasure and hear his response,” he said.
Chizuma was arrested on December 6, but detained for only a few hours, following calls from other officials, ordinary Malawians for her release.
The president, however, did not penalize Chizuma for the offences she committed in the leaked audio, although the commission had recommended so.
“As such, to prevent him from using a public office to settle a personal injury, I have removed Dr Kayuni from office with immediate effect, and I thank him for his many years of service,” Chakwera said.
President Chakwera appointed Masauko Edwin Chamkakala as Malawi’s new director of public prosecutions and called on all government agencies to support the new government’s chief prosecutor.