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Malawi turning into failed state—CCJP

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Michael Kaiyatsa

By Deogratias Mmana:

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has said Malawi is turning into a failed state because President Lazarus Chakwera has lost direction on how to manage the country.

CCJP says the country’s leadership has deviated from its principles of governing a democratic polity by failing to foster the rule of law, end corruption, promote unity of purpose, servant leadership and focus on the less privileged.

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The commission says Malawi is at a crossroads because of the unbearable situations in various spheres of life, including appalling socio-economic reality and deplorable human rights.

The CCJP has emptied its chest through a statement issued on December 7 2022. titled ‘The prevailing socio-economic and political situation in Malawi: A critical introspection’.

The statement is signed by all the nine coordinators of the commission from all the Catholic dioceses and the national office at the Catholic Secretariat in Lilongwe.

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“The country’s leadership has clearly lost direction on how to manage what can reasonably and justifiably be described as a country in a crisis. In other words, Malawi is quickly turning into a failed state; the indicators are so vivid in the eyes of many, perhaps except the country’s leadership itself,” the statement reads.

Commenting on the arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma, the commission says it doubts Chakwera’s full support to the fight against corruption following revelations that he and some of his ministers did not know about the arrest of Chizuma.

“It is mind boggling that the State President and his ministers of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Homeland Security denied having knowledge of the planned arrest of such a high-profile personality as the ACB Director General.

“It is important for Malawians to remember that, at some point, President Chakwera has been a fervent and loud critic of the ACB leadership while at times he has demonstrated his support for the Director General in public or official speeches.

“Effectively, this creates uncertainty and doubts over his full support to the battle against corruption in the country,” the statement reads.

The commission has, however, urged the bureau to take concrete and swift action, without fear or favour, against anybody suspected to be involved in looting of public resources.

On other issues, the commission has accused the government of failing to take charge over the killings of people with albinism which have resurfaced; attacks on elderly people with a fresh episode in Mzimba, where an old woman was beaten and pushed into an open grave.

The commission has also asked the government to investigate and arrest people tampering with the Affordable Inputs Programme.

It has further accused the government of failing to stop the piling of domestic debt. It says the stock of debt in Malawi has increased to K6.38 trillion, which is equivalent to 62 percent of the country’s gross domestic product for the 2021-22 period.

“These challenges are compounded by weak governance and poor quality of public administration combined with limited fiscal space and deficient monitoring of utilisation of debt money. It has been noted by CCJP that the Malawi Government is failing to stop the piling up of debts as its only hope is for the lenders to write off the debts.

“Such governance practice on debt management only brings about instability and uncertainties to the economy in the light of the fragility of Malawi’s economic environment,” the statement reads.

Among other things, CCJP asks the President to demonstrate his sincerity and genuine commitment towards supporting the ACB and its Director General in the fight against corruption through provision of security to staff working for the organisation.

It also wants the Malawi Human Rights Commission to expedite investigations into the alleged human rights violations suffered by Chizuma during her morning arrest on December 6 2022.

The statement is signed by national coordinator Boniface Chibwana, Blantyre Archdiocese coordinator Joseph Kampango, Lilongwe Archdiocese coordinator Enock Kamundi, Mangochi Diocese coordinator Bruno Banda, Dedza diocese coordinator Lawrence Puliti, Chikwawa Diocese coordinator Lewis Msiyadungu, Zomba Diocese acting coordinator Fr. Patrick Kamba, Mzuzu Diocese coordinator Felix Manda and Karonga Diocese coordinator Louis Nkhata.

Minister of Information and Digitisation and government spokesperson Gospel Kazako said the fight against corruption is a process and that there is some progress made.

“CCJP is able to find material to comment on because there are some aggressive and positive activities happening in the battlefield on corruption. They have accepted, in their statement, that the ACB is independent. This is because there is progress being made,” Kazako said.

“The fight against corruption is a process and some of the issues they have raised will assist in expediting and fertilising that process. The most important thing is that something is being done to ensure we eradicate corruption, which was not the case before.”

“There are names that are being heard for the first time in this country yet there are allegations that those names have been doing a lot of harm and damage to our public resource purse. The names are now in the public domain because something is being done.

“We have an ACB that even CCJP has accepted, in their statement, to be independent. We have an ACB that is well resourced and well capacitated for the first time in history.

“Malawi’s rating internationally has tremendously improved, confirming the progress we are making. The process of making progress against corruption continues,” Kazako added.

Commenting on the statement, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa said he agreed with the commission that the country’s leadership has lost direction and that it is failing to manage the numerous crises the country is facing.

“The essence of having a government is that it has to offer direction and provide solutions to challenges people are facing. So far, the government has seemed clueless on how to address these crises. The reasons for this situation might be many, but they all boil down to lack of proper direction by the government,” Kaiyatsa said.

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