President Lazarus Chakwera Monday warned Parliament against ‘cherry-picking’ the provision in the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) that requires the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to seek consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) before commencing criminal proceedings.
Chakwera’s caution follows Parliament’s resolution allowing a motion by Likoma Islands lawmaker Ashems Songwe to bring a Private Members’ Bill amending the CPA to remove the requirement.
Speaking when he presided over the National Anti-Corruption Conference in Blantyre, Chakwera said Parliament must look at the anti-corruption laws wholesomely.
He said if Parliament is indeed serious about the independence of the country’s anti-corruption institutions, it must go all the way in ensuring that no entity, whether domestic or foreign, can influence how and when laws are enforced.
“Parliament must look at the country’s laws comprehensively, laws that regulate political party financing, laws that regulate public procurement, laws that regulate financial transactions between the private and public sector, laws that regulate interagency cooperation, laws that regulate the proper conduct of criminal investigations, even laws that regulate the running of governance bodies like the Anti- Corruption Bureau, the Directorate of Public Prosecution, the Fiscal Police and the Financial Intelligence Authority, not only to protect their independence from State actors, but also undue influence from non-state actors like political parties, private businesses and agents of foreign governments.
“Not too long ago, a diplomat from a Western country told me that I should expect to see arrests of corruption suspects from the previous administration, and I told them that I do not know anything about it because I do not interfere with the operations of the authorities responsible for those matters, but I was shocked that a foreign diplomat had access to that kind of information and influence over our law enforcement,” Chakwera said.
The provision in CPA that requires ACB to seek consent from the DPP came to the light after DPP Steven Kayuni withheld consent from the bureau to commence criminal proceedings against then minister of lands Kezzie Msukwa.
Chakwera, however, conceded that said corruption is so entrenched that it needs a new approach and more energised anti-corruption messages.
United States of America Ambassador David Young said it is important that the anti-corruption bodies are not hindered in their operations.
“I am not here to tell the Malawians how they should go about some specific pieces of legislation but what is important is the anti-corruption bodies are not hindered in any way. This is a Malawian war and must be fought by Malawians themselves but development partners are here to support the government in the fight.
“Billions of kwacha have been siphoned through corrupt practices, impeding service delivery, further marginalising the vulnerable, compromising development support and undermining democracy,” Young said.
ACB Director General Martha Chizuma said there is a need to restore a sense of integrity among Malawians, insisting Malawi already has enough anti-corruption laws in place.
“A good example is the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act but what is happening? People are still engaging in corruption. This is the reason why even the theme of this conference ‘Resetting the Nation’s Moral Tone’ is putting emphasis on the people,” Chizuma said.