Martha Chizuma and Denise Namburete Honored as Anti-Corruption Champions 2021

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The two Africans are among 11 individuals honored this year by the U.S. Department of State for Global Anti-Corruption Day, celebrated every December 9.

These personalities, said the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, “have demonstrated leadership, courage and impact in preventing, exposing and fighting corruption.
Other honorees this year are Dorothy Bradley of Belize, Nikolay Staykov of Bulgaria, Alexandra Attalides of Cyprus, Carlos Giovanni Ruano Pineda of Guatemala, Gabriela Alejandra Castellanos of Honduras, Jamiliya Maricheva of Kazakhstan, Juris Juriss of Latvia, Riad Kobeissi of Lebanon, Torplus Yomnak of Thailand and Carlos Paparoni of Venezuela.

Since April 2021, Martha Chizuma,”fearless legal bulldozer”, has been the Executive Director of the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau, the first woman to hold this position. Prior to that, she was the Malawi Ombudsman, appointed to the position on December 1, 2015. The Office of the Ombudsman is an independent office established by Section 120 of the Malawi Constitution of 1994. The Office protects and promotes good governance and respect for the rule of law by professionally, independently, impartially, and fairly investigating, resolving, and providing remedies for cases of alleged injustice by a public body. As an ombudsman, Martha Chizuma was also, under the country’s constitution, a commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), a commissioner of the Malawi Police Service Commission and a member of the Malawi Prisons Inspectorate.

Martha Chizuma has led, participated in, or provided oversight in several small and large human rights investigations that the MHRC has conducted over the years, particularly since 2015 when she became a commissioner of the MHRC. This role of monitoring and investigating human rights violations within the MHRC complemented her work as an ombudsperson, where she successfully investigated several cases of maladministration and abuse of public power, earning her public and international recognition.

Strong legal professional

A strong legal professional , Martha Chizuma holds a Master’s degree in International Economic Law from the University of East London and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) with honors from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, obtained in 2002. She has held various positions including Deputy Registrar of the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal from 2003 to 2006, Deputy Chairperson of the Industrial Relations Court (IRC); Legal Counsel to the Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company.

Martha Chizuma is a member of the Malawi Bar Association, the Malawi Women Lawyers Association and the Malawi Women Judges Association (founding member and former official). She is also a Board Member of Vision Fund Malawi; Board Member of Baobab Health Trust; Board Member of Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECOM); Board Member of PSI-Malawi; Member of International Ombudsman Institute and Founding Member of Malawi Women Lawyers Association; Advisory Board Member of World Vision Malawi and Board Member of Electoral Institute of Southern Africa. She is also the patron of FPAM.

Martha Chizuma, Malawi’s former anti-corruption ombudsman, pictured in her office in the capital Lilongwe on September 9, 2019. (AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

Martha Chizuma has received several awards, including the African Conference on Gender Equality’s Woman of the Year 2021; the Institute of Marketers’ 2020 Woman Lawyer of the Year Award – Government; and the 2020 Person of the Year Award. In addition, under his leadership, the Ombudsman’s office was voted the Best Exhibitor of 2019 at the first ever Ombudsman Exhibition in Nigeria and Best Performer of 2019 among Malawi’s constitutional bodies and best performing public institution.

Health and Development

Denise Namburete is the founder and executive director of “N’weti”, a pioneering and innovative health and development communication organization in Mozambique. She holds a master’s degree in Social Change and Development Communication from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro’s Faculty of Communication, where she also earned a degree in Social Communication. Through a performance-based management system and results-oriented interventions, Denise Namburete has made N’weti one of the most successful local organizations, reaching more than 3 million people in each health and development campaign.

Denise Namburete’s work gained greater prominence when she led the civil society coalition Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO), of which she was the coordinator, in opposing the extradition order of former Finance Minister Manuel Chang to Mozambique for his role in the “hidden debt” case, arguing that the former leader should be tried in the United States.

Denise Namburete chairs the board of the Centre for Civil Society Empowerment (CESC), an NGO that aims to strengthen and develop the skills of civil society in Mozambique in the areas of advocacy and governance monitoring. She is also a board member of the Maria Lurdes Mutola Foundation, founded by the Mozambican Olympic champion of the same name and dedicated to youth development through education, sports and entrepreneurship. The Foundation has already supported more than 8,000 beneficiaries in five provinces of Mozambique.

Denise Namburete is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Department of Social and Behavioral Change Communication at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health in South Africa.
In addition, Denise Namburete is a research associate of KULA, Studies and Applied Research, a consultancy on socio-economic and development issues. Denise Namburete has also been the executive producer of a series of short films that won awards at international film festivals in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

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