The United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) envoys have asked the government to move quickly in filling top-leadership vacancies at the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA).
The position of FIA director general (DG) became vacant in January last year as the government did not renew the contract of the then director-general Atuweni Juwayeyi- Agbermodji while the ACB DG post fell vacant in December last year following the expiry of Reyneck Matemba’s term of office.
US Ambassador to Malawi Robert Scott and UK High Commissioner David Beer said this when they held a virtual meeting with Ombudsman Martha Chizuma, outgoing ACB DG Matemba and FIA acting DG Vincent Chipeta.
Both envoys welcomed news that the two institutions had registered progress in recent months.
“The governments of the US and UK strongly agree that an accountable and transparent government is critical for sustainable development and a stable democracy,” Scott and Beer said
The purpose of the meeting was to express their governments’ support to the two institutions, which they said were key to the attainment of national goals on good governance.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Gift Trapence concurred with the two envoys, saying ACB and FIA needed leadership that would be monitoring activities on a daily basis.
“The government has been losing a lot of public money through corruption. In fact, Malawi is not as poor as many say— only that public funds are abused greatly by some of the people holding public positions.
“It is true that we can reverse this trend when we have strong institutions like ACB and FIA,” Trapence said.
He said, apart from empowering the two institutions, HRDC wanted the Tonse Alliance-led administration to finalise work on its reforms agenda so that ACB, FIA and institutions of like mandate could embrace true independence in their operations.
Meanwhile, People’s Federation for National Peace and Development (Pefenap) Executive Director Edward Chaka has bemoaned the government’s delays in filling the top positions at the two institutions.
“If the government means what it says, that it is committed to fighting corruption and ensuring that fiscal policies are not abuses, then it must act fast to fill the vacant positions at ACB and FIA. Actually, we, at Pefenap, believe that, most of the times, the importance of ACB is exaggerated while the role of FIA is underrated and yet, if the truth were to be told, FIA stops crimes before they happen.
“These days, with the use of bitcoin and other tools that ease the movement of money, it is important to stop the activities of criminals before they engage in them. It takes time to find a trail of money, hence FIA should be seen as important as ACB,” Chaka said.