Tuesday, President Peter Mutharika led Malawians and other stakeholders in the launch of a National Security Policy at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe where he called for concerted effort to fight corruption.
As the launch was in progress, it was dismaying to note that other people that the country has allowed to partner in ensuring that Malawians must get value for public funds are not willing to join hands in the fight against corruption in its various forms.
We have in mind the contempt with which the Logistics Unit Team Leader in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme, Charlie Clark, treated The Daily Times when we wanted to get to the root of a fraud that attempted to swindle government of K46 million.
With tongue-in-cheek, Clark dismissed our reporter’s attempts to cross-check some facts with him concerning the unit he presides on.
Ironically, Clark sits on a unit that is charged with the responsibility of providing checks and balances in the Fisp implementation, a role that we wanted to complement through our investigation.
We find Clark’s behaviour off-colour because, at his level, we expect him to be well versed with issues of transparency and accountability. Clark should appreciate that by working for the development partners in the unit, his ultimate goal is to protect interests of poor Malawians which the Fisp initiative aims to serve.
Malawi thrives on constitutionalism and the country’s Constitution obliges those in public offices to ensure that the media has unhindered access to issues of public interest. Section 36 of the Constitution stipulates that “the press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded fullest possible facilities for access to public information”.
Clark should have known that it was his duty and the media’s right to grant and receive the sought interview. If it was not convenient for him, he was supposed to have said so and not shout at the media.
Clark may wish to appreciate that the media in Malawi has worked very hard to safeguard good corporate governance and fight fraud. The development partners that Clark works for mostly rely on the media as it illuminates on dark nests of fraud and corruption.
It is very surprising that Clark is standing in the way of transparency that his employers, the development partners, have always advocated. We find his impunity unacceptable and an insult to Malawians of goodwill. We also demand an apology from Clark or his employers for this demeaning behaviour towards Malawians.
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