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Funding, political will crippled our operations —ACB Chief

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After facing a barrage of criticism for what the public describes as lack of zeal to cramp down corruption over the past few years, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has finally opened up, with Director Reyneck Matemba attributing the bureau’s ‘slow motion’ to lack of political will and hurdles to access funding.

The revelation comes at a time when, all of a sudden, the bureau has been making headway with cases that were reported and alleged to have been committed some years back.

In an interview with Malawi News Friday, Matemba said for the bureau to function to its optimum level, there has to be a good working environment, adequate funding and political will from leaders.

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“The issue of funding is one I have been saying over and over again. We used to have problems and for us to be able to access that funding was hectic and at the end of the day, it was demotivating officers.

“For some of us, we had no choice but to use personal resources to fund the operations of the bureau. I did not expect the officers to use their money and there was a limit to which they could do that so, as the Head of the bureau, I had to jump in. it was difficult for us to get the funding and hell for us to access it,” he said.

Matemba said having worked with the bureau for at least seven years, one thing that is vital for the bureau’s operations is political will which was lacking for the past five years.

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“The messages by political leaders also matters, these messages make a difference and you look at the leaders themselves and one is able to tell that this is serious or rhetoric.

“Another thing is that the work that we were doing was risky. So it was a risky job and operating with limited resources where sometimes you have to use your personal resources. There were times when you would be handling a case and you would know that I have a case and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They would not tell you to stop but they would just make the environment difficult for you to make progress,” he said.

However, efforts to speak to the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party officials on the matter proved futile as they kept tossing us around.

Chancellor College based political analyst Ernest Thindwa said what the ACB is informing the nation is inherently contradictory.

“On one hand, the bureau chief claims he could not effectively deal with corruption cases because the appointing authority lacked political will and on the other, he was willing to cling on to the job when he knew he could not deliver on high profile cases…He was certainly complicit to official corruption for maintaining his position yet failing to bring to book perpetrators of high profile corruption,” Thindwa said.

Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said the Tonse Alliance government believes in working systems and strong institutions.

“Malawi will be retrieved from a situation of demise using relevant systems and strong, active and independent institutions.

“Our government believes in setting up systems that will work in the long run and will not be faced with interference of any sort. We want to build a corrupt free generation that will begin with an independent ACB,” he said.

Lately, the ACB has been making arrests of individuals suspected to have committed crimes under the previous government, with the bureau largely relying on reports and tip-offs from various individuals and organisations.

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