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Goodall Gondwe draws fire over Anti-Corruption Bureau

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe, has drawn criticism over his remarks that the apparent ineffectiveness of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is not of government’s making because it was the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that provided legislation that established the constitutional body.

Goodall was responding to questions from Ed Butler of the British Broadcasting Corparation (BBC) on allegations that the independence of ACB is questionable because politicians continue influencing its decisions due to the nature of its directors’ appointments.

In the current set-up, a president is responsible for appointing ACB top bosses but different stakeholders including opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have been pushing for such a format to be revised so that the Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament should instead be making the appointments.

However, when the matter came to Parliament, the government side shot it down.

Butler put it to Gondwe that the politicians in power control ACB such that its operations raise questions.

However, the Finance Minister said the current ACB set-up is based on the legislation that was provided by other institutions, thus government should not be blamed for its apparent ineffectiveness.

But in separate interviews yesterday, political scientist, Mustapha Hussein, and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) National Secretary, Martin Chiphwanya, described such sentiments as unfortunate.

Hussein said it does not make sense for a government official to make such assertions when the Corrupt Practices Act went through the Malawi Parliament and not the World Bank or the IMF to become a law.

“It is Malawi politicians who deliberated and passed that legislation. It is indicated in the Constitution that we would have such an institution and therefore, suggesting that it is not effective because of the World Bank or the IMF does not make sense to me,” Hussein said.

On his part, Chiphwanya said Gondwe’s remarks should compel Malawians to begin asking questions on whether the country is really in charge of the laws that it has.

“If the Corrupt Practices Act was approved by Parliament, that means we were supposed to take ownership as a country. We accepted it and we were confident that it would address corruption issues in our country.

“In any case, the question that we should be asking is: do we just accept some of these issues without properly scrutinising them because what it means is that maybe the document was just given to Malawi and we just accepted it,” Chiphwanya said.

In an interview yesterday, Gondwe could not comment on the BBC interview and simply said: “What is the problem here? I haven’t talked to the BBC in years.”

But in the BBC interview, the Finance Minister also argued that there is no name of any cabinet minister purportedly implicated in what is commonly known as the K577 billion plunder, saying the law could have already taken its course if such names were there.

The interview’s audio version is posted on the BBC website with a caption: “Is Malawi serious about corruption: Why has no minister been charged since Malawi’s Cashgate corruption scandal two years ago?”

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