Government tough on graft
Homeland Security Minister Jean Sendeza has warned National Registration Bureau (NRB) employees to desist from corruption, saying those caught in the act will be prosecuted.
She said this when she visited NRB offices in Blantyre.
“I am aware of reports that some officers solicit bribes to offer services which are free. It is an open secret that some officers solicit bribes from people seeking various services. Those who do not want to stop the tendency should just resign and go home because they will not be spared. No one should be paying for services which are free,” she said.
Some of the people that were accessing services at the bureau bemoaned poor service delivery.
For instance, heavily pregnant Praise Phiri told Sendeza that she applied for national identity card renewal in September last year but was yet to be issued with the card, a claim Sendeza conceded validates reports of corruption at the bureau.
“Look at my form Madam. I applied for renewal of my document seven months ago but I keep on being sent back. We voted for you to be in government to help us. Do something about this because it’s not right,” she said.
Sendeza assured Phiri and other people seeking services at the bureau that her ministry would ensure that service delivery improves.
“We are doing something about these issues, Already, the government has sourced printers from United Nations Development Programme to enable the bureau to start printing IDs at district level,” she said.
Principal Secretary for NRB in the Ministry of Homeland Security, Mphatso Sambo, said the bureau was working with Anti-Corruption Bureau officials in a bid to bring corrupt elements to book.
“There have been reports of officers seeking bribes. Some cases are in the courts of law; so, we cannot dismiss the perception of corruption within the bureau. That said, we have lined up activities to deal with corruption involving the Anti- Corruption Bureau,” he said.
In a related development, Sendeza visited Makande Prison in Thyolo District to appreciate some of the development projects being implemented at the facility.
Among other things, Sendeza inspected factories such as Chikondi Phala, soap-making and fire briquettes as well as a site where houses for Malawi Prison Service workers are being constructed.
After inspecting the factories, Sendeza, who was accompanied by the ministry’s principal secretary Kennedy Nkhoma, addressed officers and their spouses.
Sendeza urged the officers to exhibit professionalism in their work and refrain from corrupt practices.
“The government will not shield anyone implicated in corruption,” she said.
Sendeza said the government would not tolerate anyone to soil its image.
“The report which some researchers released under the banner of Afrobarometer indicates that some officers in my ministry indulge in corruption. This is very pathetic and I am advising you to love your job so that you should not fall into this trap,” the minister said.
The station’s officer in-charge, Superintendent Samson Zwangeti, who was in the company of the regional commanding officer for Southern Region-cum-deputy commissioner of prisons, Aaron Kaunda, commended the minister for visiting his station.
The minister is, on Friday, scheduled to visit national prisons headquarters as well Mpyupyu Prison in Zomba.
This month, an Afrobarometer survey report which was compiled by the Centre for Social Research, which is under the University of Malawi, indicated that levels of corruption had worsened in Malawi.
The report says most Malawians feel that the Tonse Alliance administration was doing a “poor job in fighting corruption”.
The report says two thirds of Malawians (66 percent) say that cases of corruption have increased over the past year.
Further, the report says 54 percent of Malawians feel that the fight against corruption is worse under the Tonse administration than during Democratic Progressive Party tenure of office.
“Two thirds (66 percent) of citizens say the government is performing ‘fairly badly’ or ‘very badly’ at fighting corruption. More than eight in 10 Malawians (83 percent) agree with the idea that Cabinet ministers and government officials charged with corruption should be fired immediately,” the report reads.
While immediate dismissal of Cabinet ministers and government officials charged with corruption receives overwhelming popular support, a slimmer majority, 57 percent, say suspects who refund proceeds of corruption should be granted amnesty.
Topping the list of corrupt institutions is the Malawi Police Service at 42 percent followed by Malawi Revenue Authority at 39 percent, business executives at 38 percent, civil servants at 37 percent, Office of the President and Cabinet at 37 percent, members of Parliament at 36 percent, traditional leaders at 32 percent, religious leaders at 32 percent, councillors at 30 percent, judges and magistrates at 30 percent and non-governmental organisations at 25 percent.
According to the report, almost eight in 10 Malawians (78 percent) say that people risk retaliation, or other negative consequences, if they report corruption to the authorities.
“For a government that campaigned on zero tolerance for corruption, and a country badly in need of resources to improve service delivery, these findings represent a renewed call to action,” the report reads.