President Lazarus Chakwera has called for empowerment and a minimum level of understanding of legal matters among members of Parliament (MPs) so that they can put security agents in the country in check.
Speaking when he presided over the official opening of the 2022 African Bar Association (AFBA) conference in Lilongwe Monday, Chakwera decried that for a long time, bureaucrats have hidden behind the laws of State secrecy as a security precaution to hide information from the public, and thereby breeding corruption in the process.
“Just as critical is the need to ensure that our legislators are empowered with the technical know-how for having oversight of our defence and security organs on behalf of the citizens they represent…Here in Malawi, we are in the middle of addressing a corruption scandal within our security organs,” he said.
He said such remedies have become necessary now because of the collective failures from the past to equip Parliament with the needed capacity to perform its oversight role over security organs such as the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Malawi Defence Force (MDF).
Both the MPS and MDF are at the centre of corruption scandals involving businessmen Zunneth Sattar and Zameer Karim in which it is suspected that billions of government money were looted through dubious procurement contracts.
The Malawi leader then called on the Judiciary to become more transparent and accountable to the elected representatives of the people (MPs) with a reminder that they operate on people’s taxes.
“Only then can we ensure that the bench is reserved for the virtuous and, if you’ll allow the pun, ensure that the bar is reserved for the sober,” he added.
He then challenged the legal minds attending the conference to address ethical and governance issues which he described as clogging the wheels of growth and development on the continent and specific countries including Malawi.
Corroborating Chakwera Vice President for Liberia Jewel Taylor warned African Nations and their citizenry to be on the lookout for international invaders whom he said are bent on depriving nations of their successes.
At this point, the African continent still has 50 percent of the precious resources that were stolen from it and thus challenged lawyers to look beyond the prevailing circumstances in looking for solutions to socio-economic stability.
“Time has come for Africans to be bold and take charge of their destinies in order to achieve a future that was envisioned by our forefathers,” she said.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Titus Mvalo said through the conference which is under the theme ‘instituting an enduring legacy of transparent and accountable governance in Africa: basic issues and roadmap’ lawyers should be reminded of their duty to ensure proper administration of justice and upholding of the rule of law.
During the event, President Chakwera received a plaque of appreciation from the AFBA while Professor at law (retired) Edge Kanyongolo and Senior Counsel Mordecai Msiska were among the recipients of the Africa Bar medals of merit in recognition of their contribution to the legal profession.
The event which has attracted over 750 legal professionals from across Africa and beyond is being hosted by the Malawi Law Society and runs to August 11, 2022.