The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will start using the amended Corrupt Practices Act next year by advertising the post in the local press when hiring the institution’s Director General (DG), the body’s senior official has said.
Currently, the President appoints the DG directly followed by the approval of Public Appointment Committee of the National Assembly.
Details about the new method of hiring the DG emerged during a panel discussion held in Mzuzu over the weekend on the importance of Auditor General’s reports.
ACB, which was represented by its Senior Public Relations Officer, Egritta Ndala, was queried on whether it was possible for it to operate independently when the President hires the DG.
The panelists were referring to the Corrupt Practices Act of 2004 which reads: “The President shall, on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit, appoint the Director, and the appointment of any person as Director shall be subject to confirmation by the Public Appointments Committee.”
The 2004 Act further says ACB shall exercise its functions and powers “independent of the direction or interference of any other person or authority. The Bureau shall be a Government Department and the finances of the Bureau shall be charged to the Consolidated Fund.”
It further says: “The Director shall submit reports to the President and to the Minister regarding the general conduct of the affairs of the Bureau.”
However, Ndala said the amended Act provides that names of three successful candidates from interviews be submitted to the President to appoint one candidate who is approved by the appointments committee.
“The amendment is that the Director General will now be appointed competitively. A vacancy will be floated in the newspapers, and then people will be applying and later shortlisted. Then a team of representatives of different sectors of society will form a panel to interview people. Three people will be shortlisted and the names will be sent to the President to appoint one, followed by Public Appointment Committee members’ approaval,” Ndala said.
The current ACB DG Reyneck Matemba’s contract expires next year.
George Phiri, University of Livingstonia political commentator who was also one of the panelists, said the most important thing is that ACB should work as mandated by the law.
“Although this is there, citizenship responsibility is very important to make sure that ACB does the work it is required to do,” Phiri said.
During the debate, most panelists highlighted the importance of audit reports.
Commenting on the impact of the debate, Coordinator of Integrity Platform, Jeff Kabondo, said the public should also take part in analysing and reflecting on the audit reports and find options in improving management of public resources.
Last week, Matemba told a meeting in Mangochi District that ACB is overwhelmed by over 3,000 case files it is xpected to investigate, attributing the pile up to complaints which the bureau receives daily to do with the government departments, ministries and agencies.
“The rate at which we dispose of the cases does not match with the number of cases which we receive. We are lagging behind; we are struggling. Because of that, we had to make a decision such that now were are prioritising cases to handle. We do not investigate every case we have. Some of the cases are being referred to other bodies because they are not corruption-related in nature,” Matemba said.
The United Kingdom High Commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett, speaking on behalf of other development partners for Malawi during the commemoration of World Anti-Corruption Day in Mangochi on December 9 2019, urged the government to step up its fight against corruption.
“Many Malawians have told us that politically-connected individuals are undermining your efforts in the fight against corruption. We are concerned about emerging evidence of “cartels” operating within the private sector to win public procurement contracts and the reports of civil servants being threatened if they challenge the status quo,” Tett said at the event whose guest of honour was Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Bright Msaka.