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Britain talks tough on graft

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British High Commissioner to Malawi Holly Tett has told government to do more in the fight against corruption.

Her remarks come after other ambassadors, Marchel Gerrmann of the European Union (EU) and Kikkan Haugen of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, made similar sentiments.

While acknowledging efforts being made in the fight against the vice, including the recent National Stakeholders’ Conference on Corruption and recently announced increases to key accountability and oversight institutions, Tett says there still is need for more action.

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“The government’s report on corruption for the conference highlighted that the vice is rampant and growing. With two-thirds of Malawians (66 percent) believing that corruption has increased a lot over the last year, it is ever more critical to be able to demonstrate solid examples of progress in tackling corruption,” Tett said.

She added: “We believe increased attention needs to be given to procurement processes as the recent controversies around the Salima–Lilongwe Water Project have highlighted. Attention must be given to reporting lines in key accountability institutions; and as we always say, attention must be given to impunity – there should be no sacred cows.”

Tett added that she hopes that Britain’s technical support on the Control of Goods Act will enable the government to table a bill that will put in place a transparent system for regulating the import and export of goods, and that the Public Procurement Bill currently in Parliament will play the same role.

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“Ensuring increased transparency in procurement processes is essential. Also important will be the passing of the National Audit Amendment Bill and its implementation. We continue to tackle corruption head on, whether corruption in procurement, big investments, public sector, programmes and projects,” Tett said.

She was speaking in Lilongwe on Thursday during celebrations marking the 91st birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

During the ceremony, Tett highlighted a number of areas that the British are working on in Malawi. Some of them are trade, education, food security and the national registration exercise.

She also said Britain’s decision of exiting the EU, which is popularly known as Brexit, offers the country an opportunity to forge a new role in the world.

“It is clear that a priority will be strengthening trade and investment ties with fellow Commonwealth countries and there will be an opportunity for real action on this at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in the UK [United Kingdom) in April next year. I have already had many conversations with the Government of Malawi about the opportunities that Brexit could present for UK-Malawi trade and investment relationships,” she said.

Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, who spoke on behalf of government, said it is committed to fighting corruption.

“The fight against corruption has engaged a higher and more robust gear, with much increased budget allocations to the Anti- Corruption Bureau and similar accountability institutions,” Msaka said.

He also pledged that the government would continue strengthening democracy and institutions in conformity with the will of the people of Malawi.

“In all our initiatives and efforts, we shall count on the support, collaboration, and the good example of the British Government and other cooperating partners,” he said.

Msaka added that Malawi appreciates numerous contributions that Queen Elizabeth II has made, not only to British citizens, but to The Commonwealth, as well as to the world as a whole.

“Her Majesty the Queen, through her various charity organisations, has personally made tremendous contributions across the globe towards the welfare of humankind. Malawi is a prime beneficiary of Her Majesty’s generosity,” Msaka said.

He also highlighted the recent visit of Sophie Hellen Rhys-Jones, Countess of Wessex, to provide support towards the elimination of trachoma through the Queens Diamond Jubilee Trust, and last year’s visit of Prince Harry on a cause to support the country’s drive towards the protection of wildlife.

Msaka also said Malawi was committed to enhancing its relationship with Britain.

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