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Government not committed to tackling corruption

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As usual, as expected, I took time off my busy schedule to listen to the activities commemorating International Labour Day.

Those activities included the speech by President Peter Mutharika, our beloved Head of State.

I was happy that he conceded corruption is rampant in Malawi and is strangulating our economy: ordinary Malawians are failing to get good health services in public hospitals, education standards in public schools is worse than ever before, the list is endless.

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So for our beloved leader President Peter Mutharika to come out of his shell and declare that graft is worse than ever before is something news worth.

Now, what we want is action not mere rhetoric.

We want the President to unleash the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Fiscal Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions to arrest anyone, whether they are blue, orange or red; as long as someone is involved in graft, they must be brought to justice.

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We do not want senseless conferences on corruption.

Stanley Onjezani Kenani, a respected political, social and economic commentator, wrote on his Facebook: “They have gathered at the Bingu International Conference Centre to talk about corruption over tea and lunch.

“They have even invited Kenya’s PLO Lumumba to deliver his usual great speeches against corruption.

“Talking is all there is. After that, they will make reports in glossy covers printing to this talk show as one of the major achievements in the fight against corruption.”

This is a very brilliant summary of the just-ended conference on corruption in Lilongwe.

I would add: the conference was a waste of money and time.

There are a lot of things that must be done to end corruption in the country.

By the way, as the corruption conference was coming to an end, someone, a civil servant, was busy battling allegations that he was spending K69 million for his wedding.

This is no simple money in Malawi; it can fund the whole government department for the whole year.

As Ken a n i s a i d , the organisers of the conference would be patting themselves on the back for a job well done as if the conference had ended corruption in the country.

Corruption does not happen at Bingu International Conference Centre (Bicc); corruption happens at Capital Hill and other offices.

As Lumumba said during the National Anti-Corruption Conference, Malawi cannot win the fight against corruption unless the presidency takes lead.

The first step the organisers of the conference in Malawi should have taken was to call on Mutharika and sensitise him to what it means to fight the vice.

You do not fight corruption with a brilliant speech during Labour Day commemorations.

You do not fight corruption by reading beautifully written speeches by great speech writers during the Anti-Corruption Day.

You end corruption with action.

Mutharika should know that he has power to end corruption in Malawi, once and for all.

Fighting corruption is a collective effort, yes, but he has powers vested in him that can end corruption without the help of Dickson Kashoti or other columnists and writers.

He has the ACB, he has the police and he has the Director of Public Prosecutions and other state agencies which he can order to deal with graft.

His administration can make good policies which should be religiously followed and implemented in order to end corruption.

Mutharika started very well. He started off as if he were really committed to the fight against graft, putting a clause in the Democratic Progressive Party manifesto that aimed at reducing his powers in that he would not be appointing directors of the ACB and the graft-busting body would be independent.

What we are seeing now is a different picture altogether. He has literally swallowed his own words and now wants to be in full control of the ACB.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We see the same at the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA). MRA is busy pouncing on critics of the government as well as opposition members as if people from the ruling party were angels.

The same applies to Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority. The communications regulatory body finds it easier to pounce on radios or television stations deemed pro-opposition or critical of the government leaving out pro-government stations.

As Ollen Mwalubunju, the Executive Director of the National Initiative for Civic Education, said, there is no justification in using taxpayers’ money to fund the ACB which is a great failure and disappointment.

Malawians actually do not understand why ACB exists. The ACB finds it easy to arrest a helpless police officer who solicited a mere K15,000 for his survival leaving out fat cows milking the country’s thin cow, the government, just because they have powerful connections to the powers that be.

I know there are people in Malawi who have worked tirelessly hard to get where they are; they started small but with hard work, good vision and focus, they are extremely rich now.

However, there are others who used short cuts to get where they are and because of their connections to the powers that be, the ACB fears to touch them.

The government, especially President Mutharika, his cabinet, the ACB and the Director of Public Prosecutions should do some soul-searching on why corruption seems to be increasing in the country instead of decreasing.

I n s tead of cal l ing for corruption talk shows and getting fat allowances in the name of fighting corruption, instead of inviting busy diplomats and donors to waste their precious time to talk on corruption which this government cannot end, instead of calling Public Affairs Committee officials all nasty names and insults for saying the truth that corruption is record high in the country, Mutharika and his administration should first concede they have failed to tackle corruption in the country.

If they realise that they have failed, then new strategies can be put in place to take the vice head-on.

Otherwise, these talk shows on corruption are useless, a waste of time and money that will only benefit the elite while ordinary Malawians like me struggle as the economy gets strangulated every day due to corruption.

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