Malawi risks losing USA’s K359 billion aid
By Deogratias Mmana:
While the government says it remains committed to the fight against corruption, the United States (US) Ambassador to Malawi David Young says failure to fight corruption compromises countries’ chances of getting aid under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Young said Wednesday that countries that get aid under the MCC are expected to have a good record of political, economic and good governance.
He, however, said what has been happening in Malawi over the past two months— when the Central Government has allegedly been fighting corruption champions— is disappointing.
In September last year, President Lazarus Chakwera and the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a $350 million (approximately K359 billion) MCC grant aimed at reducing transportation costs and improving the ability of farmers to get their products to the market by upgrading 300 kilometres of roads.
In an exclusive interview at his house Wednesday, Young said MCC is a unique foreign assistance package from the USA government which needs to be continually evaluated to see how the partner government is working to meet scorecard indicators.
“The Millennium Challenge Corporation, [as is the practice] all over the world, is awarded to countries that have a record of good governance. There is a score card that measures political governance, economic governance and how they fight corruption. That is very important.
“What has happened over the past two months is profoundly disappointing. That is disappointing to us,” Young said.
He said, over the past two months, the government machinery that is supposed to play a role in the fight against corruption has been fighting against corruption champions, citing Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General Martha Chizuma.
Young said the fight against corruption is key to ensuring that development trickles down to people.
“We need to promote good governance, political governance and economic governance and that requires fighting against corruption because, ultimately, we pump hundreds of millions of dollars into Malawi and, historically, we have been a wonderful partner and we gonna continue to be a wonderful partner of Malawi but, as we move forward together, we have to join the fight [against] corruption [instead of] fighting against each other,” Young said.
Asked about why the Malawi Government is seen to be seemingly fighting those championing the fight against corruption, Young said it could be a case of corruption fighting back.
“I will be honest. Looking at what has happened over the past two months, I think corruption is fighting back. There are people who are worried that corruption [fighters] might be coming for them,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the US embassy issued a statement condemning the government’s move to, through the Attorney General, hire private practice lawyers to challenge the court order that quashed Chizuma’s interdiction.
The government responded to the statement from the US embassy through its spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu, who said the government would be engaging the embassy to respond to the concerns raised.
Kunkuyu also said the government is committed to the fight against corruption.
“The Malawi Government, out of respect for international laws, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, will engage the US Embassy and Ambassador through diplomatic channels to address the concerns raised,” the statement which Kunkuyu signed Wednesday reads.
“This will be done in the spirit of mutual respect, without compromising the duty of government to protect the sovereignty of Malawi and the independence of domestic public institutions and their officials from foreign interference, as well as in the quest for continued cooperation in the development of Malawi and its people,” the statement adds.