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Graft fight slow—US

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The 2020 United States (US) country report on Human Rights Practices for Malawi has indicated that corruption continues to surge, faulting lack of transparency in the management of government resources.

The report, which the US Department of State has released, observes that, although Malawi’s laws provide for criminal penalties on corruption convicts, the laws are not effectively implemented.

“Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There was little criminal or professional accountability for those involved. Progress on investigations and promised reforms was slow,” the report reads.

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It further faults Malawi for not completing the case in which former president Bakili Muluzi is accused of looting K1.7 billion.

The report notes that, despite court proceedings starting in 2006, the case has stalled.

It observes that, even though the anti-corruption bureau completed 94 investigations in the 2018/19 financial year, only 21 of those cases were referred to prosecutors.

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The US report further blames the Directorate of Assets Declaration for not making paper-based asset declarations more readily available by, for example, digitising them.

In addition, the Malawi Government has been found blameworthy for failing to ensure that provisions of the law are complied with.

“In October 2018 the director of Public Officers’ Declarations wrote the President and the Speaker of Parliament recommending they take disciplinary measures against a Cabinet member and members of Parliament for failing to comply with asset declaration statutes. No disciplinary measures had been carried out by October 2019,” the report reads.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson Gospel Kazako has said the Tonse Alliance-led administration would endeavour to correct shortfalls cited in the report.

“We are a different government addicted to doing things positively different. We are the custodian of respect for human rights which this country has been waiting for for 26 years. Just wait and watch,” Kazako said.

Commenting on the report, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira said the report’s observations were a reprimand on Malawi.

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