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EU dares controlling officers on corruption

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By Macdonald Thom:

The European Union (EU) has told controlling officers in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to take a tough stance on corruption.

Head of the EU delegation to Malawi, Sandra Paesen, said controlling officers have to be role models to their juniors in the fight against corruption.

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“You are leaders of institutions. You set the tone on how well the job is done, your staff depend on you to show the way, provide guidance and to be role models. How you carry yourselves and conduct business will be replicated throughout your institutions. In any institution, in Malawi as elsewhere, in order to avoid a culture of impunity settling in, it is important that fraud and maladministration lead to disciplinary cases and sanctions,” Paesen said.

She was speaking in Lilongwe on Tuesday during the opening of a Controlling Officers’ Forum, organised by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

“We shall not forget corruption is a people issue. Processes and systems can try to limit corruption, particularly IT [Information Technology] systems can try to make the misuse of funds harder by incorporating various levels of checks and balances. But systems can never eradicate it, only the ethical conduct and integrity of people can successfully contain corruption,” she said.

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Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, emphasised that corruption has adverse effects on national development.

“Increasing incidents of corruption in government MDAs are a cause for concern as these incidences affect institutional governance. No individual institution can manage to purse and sustain political, economic and social growth if corruption exists,” Muhara said.

A total of about K24 billion is said to have been lost in 2013 looting of public coffers, which was dubbed Cashgate. Following revelations of the looting, development partners, then under Common Approach to Budgetary Support, were forced to withhold budgetary support worth $150 million.

Since then, there has been no direct budgetary support to Malawi.

Meanwhile, ACB Director General, Reyneck Matemba, has described the forum as a success.

“Controlling officers have a critical role to play in safeguarding the government’s finances. We wanted to hear from them when it comes to challenges they are facing. It has been a successful meeting,” Matemba said.

Currently, the government through ACB is implementing the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (Nacs) in various institutions. The purpose of Nacs is to provide a holistic approach to the fight against corruption in Malawi.

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