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Government losing direction on corruption—HRDC

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Gospel Kazako

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Wednesday described the Tonse Alliance-led administration as having lost direction in the fight against corruption, citing its decision to extend amnesty to individuals suspected of involvement in public resources abuse.

The coalition quashed the decision by the government to grant the amnesty, claiming it was not backed by law and had never proven effective in any country.

HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence told journalists in Lilongwe that those involved in corruption should be prosecuted.

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“It’s time we stepped up efforts to safeguard public resources. Failure of successive governments to prosecute or pursue corruption cases to their logical conclusion has resulted in custodians of public resources thinking that they can abuse resources,” he said.

The coalition further said it was disheartening to note that, 20 months after the Tonse Alliance was voted into power, abuse of public resources and corruption continued to deprive Malawians of socio-economic development gains.

HRDC member-cum- Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa said the government should follow the rule of law when addressing the corruption challenge in the country.

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“We have the Anti- Corruption Strategy, Anti-Corruption Act and Financial Crimes Act; all these must be respected because they are there to guide the country,” he `said.

Information Minister Gospel Kazako insisted that the government was taking corruption head-on by equipping the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) with resources and letting its officials work independently.

“We have armed ACB. Anybody, whether you are in government or opposition, is not spared. Whatever we do, we follow the law so it is not true that we have lost direction,” he said.

Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda on Monday gave 60-day general amnesty to people who have defrauded the government or unlawfully acquired wealth through procurement fraud and corruption.

On Tuesday, Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni and Chakaka Nyirenda defended the amnesty decision, arguing that the government would recover the looted resources with interest rather than convicting the offenders.

Chakaka Nyirenda said he derived his powers from different laws including the Financial Crimes Act.

Nevertheless, the two officers said the development would not deter the ACB from making any decision.

Malawi Law Society President Patrick Mpaka said the move to use the amnesty strategy on those that defrauded the government had no legal backing, further observing that the move was a recipe for chaos.

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