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Civil society organisations, Transparency International bemoan corruption

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Moses Mkandawire

Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the Anti- Corruption Alliance (ACA) have bemoaned rising cases of corruption in the country despite last year’s change of administration.

The development comes at a time Transparency International (TI)’s latest analysis indicates that Malawi rose— on TI’s corruption rankings— from position 123 in 2019 to 129 in 2020 out of the assessed 180 countries

The CSOs— Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Youth and Society Church and Society of the Livingstonia Synod and the statutory body Malawi Law Society (MLS)— have cited the government’s failure to recover stolen money and assets as one of corruption’s fuelling factors.

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They claim, among other things, that the current administration is silent on when it could implement the 30-days-amnesty campaign promise, one of the Tonse Alliance’s flagship promises.

ACA Chairperson, who is also Church and Society Executive Director (ED), Moses Mkandawire, accused the current leadership of running the country in a less transparent way.

Mkandawire cited the current administration’s failure to make public contents of the Public Sector Reforms report, which Office of the Vice President Saulos Chilima, who is minister responsible for public affairs, prepared.

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“What has happened at the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) is also something of serious concern in regards to governance. It calls on you and me to reflect on what kind of [central] bank we want. [Following what has happened at RBM, how do you expect commercial banks to operate? At this time, we needed FIA [Financial Intelligence Authority] to be as vibrant.

“Look at governance reports. District Commissioners were suspended and, now that they have been reinstated, what are the reasons behind that? Malawians need to know. What does this reinstatement mean? Does this imply that nothing happened? So the whole secrecy about all these things is worrisome,” he said.

Further, Mkandawire said the government needed to speed up the establishment of financial courts to easily prosecute suspects and recover stolen money.

Recently, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda said he had instituted a taskforce to lay down a foundation for the establishment of the financial crimes court against corruption and theft of public resources.

Addressing Parliament on May 12 2021, President Lazarus Chakwera asked the Judiciary to expedite the creation of the special court to efficiently dispose of cases of corruption and public resources’ theft.

Chakwera also said his government was committed to empowering the Anti-Corruption Bureau, recruiting additional prosecutors and implementing the National Anti-Corruption Strategy II of 2019-2024 in an effort to combat corruption entirely.

CHRR ED Michael Kaiyatsa, while applauding the government for stepping in to arrest people suspected of stealing money meant for Covid fight, said delays in prosecuting suspects were worrisome.

“We had expectations that— now that we have the Financial Crimes Act which allows the government to cease property that is suspected to be stolen or money that is suspected to have been stolen— we thought the Tonse Alliance-led administration would implement it and make sure that it is ceasing assets.

“But, over the past 12 months, we have not seen much. Of course, we have seen some accounts being frozen but that is not enough,” Kaiyatsa said.

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