ACB Still Under DPP’s Control-Experts
Legal experts have said repealing section 42 of the Corrupt Practices Act does not free the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) from control of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in terms of prosecution of corruption cases.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) honorary secretary Chrispin Ngunde and legal expert Khumbo Bonzo Soko told us the DPP still has to supervise ACB in the prosecution of corruption cases as provided in section 10 (1) (f) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) and section 99 of the Constitution.
When Parliament passed bill number 2 of 2022 Corrupt Practices Act amendment, subsequently revoking section 42 of the CPA which requires the ACB to seek consent from the DPP before commencing with prosecution of corruption cases, legislators praised the move claiming ACB was free from control of the DPP in prosecuting cases.
Lawmaker for Likoma Island Ashems Songwe who tabled the Bill in the house, told us after it was passed that ACB will now be pouncing on corruption with speed.
“All we have done is to enhance the efficiency so that the ACB can progress with their prosecutions without any further delay.” Said Songwe.
But in an interview with Zodiak Online Ngunde said removing section 42 in the CPA does not make ACB immune to the DPP’s control in prosecuting cases.
“Anti-Corruption Bureau is supposed to prosecute cases with general directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions. Section 99 of the Constitution gives the DPP overall powers of supervision in all criminal cases.”
Lawyer Khumbo Bonzo Soko while agreeing with Ngunde said ACB can only be free if section 99 of the Constitution is changed. However, he was quick to say this would also bring chaos.
“You cannot have two prosecuting authorities which are independent of the other, its simply is not going to work.”
“The law in Malawi creates a pyramidical structure where at the very top of that pyramid sits the DPP, so the DPP then supervises and has got superintendence over what all other prosecutors including ACB prosecutors are doing.” Said Soko.
ACB has raised concern that it is failing to prosecute some corruption cases because the DPP has withheld consent.
The amended bill awaits President Lazarus Chakwera’s assent for it to become law.