Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma has vowed to decisively deal with corruption in wildlife and forest products which has resulted in the country’s forests turning into desserts, threatening the survival of wild animals.
Chizuma was speaking in Lilongwe on Monday during the launch of a report analysing the role of corruption in enabling wildlife and forest crimes in Malawi.
The report was commissioned by the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus and funded by the United States Forests and Wildlife Services and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust.
“Wildlife and forest crime have the hallmarks of any other organised criminal activity—money laundering, violence, and corruption.
“Persons responsible for corrupting public officers will be pursued vigorously and the proceeds of their crimes will be confiscated. Public officers involved in this illicit trade will not be spared either,” Chizuma said.
She observed that ACB would not just watch Malawians destroy the country’s natural heritage. Malawi Police Service Deputy Inspector General Responsible for Administration, Merlyn Yolamu, said the law enforcers would do everything possible to curb the malpractice.
“Corruption is a serious crime and individuals who don’t resist the temptation of ‘dirty money’ ultimately rob from us all.
“We need to stamp out corruption throughout the chain, from the police officers who wave through the charcoal trucks through the roadblocks; the shipping agent who clears the container of ivory through to the court clerk who alters paperwork,” Yolamu said.
Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus Co-Chairperson Werani Chilenga described the publication as timely, saying there is no government ministry, department and agency where the culture of impunity, wastage, and theft is not entrenched.
Co-author of the report and Director for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Brighton Kumchedwa, said illicit trade in products such as ivory, pangolin, and rhino horn is controlled by international organised criminal syndicates who cannot operate without the support of corrupt individuals who operate throughout the trafficking chain.