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State capture worries Civil society organisations

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Moses Mkandawire

Civil society organisations (CSOs) Thursday demanded that a Commission of Inquiry be instituted to ascertain the extent of State capture by private sector players in Malawi.

But government spokesperson Gospel Kazako claimed that they, as government, know the extent of corruption rot that has been there for so many years.

State capture is a type of systemic political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a State’s decision-making processes.

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In a joint statement Thursday, the CSOs, which include National Anti- Corruption Alliance, Youth and Society, Oxfam, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), claim that a network of politicians and senior public officials continues to abuse their entrusted power for personal gain, often colluding with businesses and criminal syndicates to achieve their personal goals.

According to the CSOs, the actions range from dubious procurement deals in government, tax evasion, extensive bribery, the capture of State authorities, to wildlife crimes.

“Noting that organised corruption in Malawi is largely perpetrated by powerful, politically-connected individuals, and the business [community], we reiterate the need for increased severity of sanctions against the culprits as well as pushing back against any overt and covert opposition by interest groups who seek to maintain the status quo.

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“Realising that the fight against organised corruption requires [a] multi-faceted approach, we wish to make a call for a full Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to establish the full scale of the capture and its damage,” the CSOs said.

National Anti- Corruption Alliance Chairperson Moses Mkandawire said the CSOs believed that the level of State capture that Malawians have seen in recent months could be a tip of an iceberg.

Mkandawire said a full commission of inquiry would be the best tool for painting the right picture on the extent of State capture in Malawi.

“We also call for transparency in the appointment of judicial officers and operations of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

“We also call for strengthened accountability of all law enforcement institutions in the management of State capture cases,” the CSO said.

In the statement, the CSOs have also asked President Lazarus Chakwera to release the Public Sector Reforms Report and expedite its implementation.

“Stop interference in procurement by [sic] Capitol Hill through the Government Contract Unit (GCU) which seems to usurp the powers of PPDA.

“The ruling Tonse government partners should voluntarily declare the financiers of the 2019-2020 elections,” the statement says.

In an interview Thursday, Kazako said the government was in control of the war tactics and plan to uproot corruption in Malawi.

“All these activities by civil society are a result of what this government has done, which is fighting corruption to the core. There has been an increase in interest in matters of corruption fight because President Chakwera struck a common chord in terms of the fight against corruption and everyone is joining in.

“Remember, all these CSOs have been there before this government got ushered in. It is the freedom we have declared to those willing to join us in the fight against corruption that has energised civil society,” Kazako said.

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