The Center for Development of People (CEDEP), a local non-governmental organization which promotes and defends the rights of Malawians has called on President Peter Mutharika to stump corruption among Electricity Supplying Commission of Malawi (ESCOM) senior officials which is being ‘orchestrated’ by senior ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials.
In a statement signed by CEDEP Executive Director Gift Trapence, the organisation expressed it’s displeasure to learn that DPP officials have been exerting pressure on ESCOM to release funds amounting to MK4 billion to be used for fraudulent procurements.
“With such high level corruption it is no wonder that we as a nation find ourselves on unenviable 112thposition on the corruption perception index(CPI). What is even worse is the fact that the country is still nursing wounds of the infamous plunder of public resources popularly known as cashgate.
“Currently, the government is failing in its duty of providing basic social services in sectors of health, education,security among others due to cashgate.It would therefore be expected that Senior government officials connected to the ruling party should be in the fore front of fighting the vice called corruption which has haunted us and stalled development activities for very long period of time,” read part of the statement.
What is even more disheartening, the statement continues, is the fact that the Ant-Corruption Bureau is always selective when dealing with corruption cases in the country.
Trapence said there are some people who are treated as sacred cows when it comes to investigations, prosecutions and convictions by the ACB in fighting corruption.
Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) director Lucas Kondowe has a strong relationship with corruption suspsect Makondi. That explains, say many Malawians, why Makondi has not been prosecuted over an alleged fraud in 2013 involving a prominent businessman, Mohammed Kassam, in a K895 mn. ($1.2 mn.) deal to supply 35 Toyota vehicles to the Malawi Defence Force.
Its former Commander, General Henry Odillo, and his deputy Clement Kafuwa were arrested over the deal in May last year but Kassam and Makondi have not been touched .
In March, a magistrate granted the ACB an arrest warrant for Makondi and Kassam, owner of Globe Electronics but the warrants were never enforced.
Insiders say Kondowe is responsible.
Cedep also cited the ‘grand corruption’ case which is believed to have been plundered during the previous DPP regime and seven cabinet ministers in the present administration are alleged to have participated in the plunder.
Up to now, the case does not have any clear direction and no clear statements regarding the same have been made both from the ACB and the government. No detailed audit report has been released and it seems the President is protecting some of his officials.
“This is very worrisome for a country that has lost donor confidence in the management of public resources to say the least. For times without number, CEDEP has spoken on the need for the government to improve service delivery in water and electricity supply to Malawians. Patients have died needlessly in hospitals due to persistent water and electricity shortages,” reads part of the statement.
CEDEP said the corruption tendencies at ESCOM are a contributing factor of its underperformance and what the DPP officials are doing is the complete anti-thesis of this.
“Instead of fighting the vice, they are busy orchestrating the same at key institutions like ESCOM.This is selfishness and criminal. The DPP led government is not interested in solving and addressing the needs of the Malawians but enriching themselves.
“Politics of the khaki envelope and self enrichment is all the DPP government is practicing. All Malawians have been left out in the cold and this is very unfortunate.It’s high time DPP led government started priotising the needs of all Malawians. The fight against corruption has to be holistic and not selective,” said the statement.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national secretary Martin Chiphwanya said recent events at the bureau, such as reports of blocking warrants of arrest and fears of political interference, have led to lack of confidence in its operations.
“We have a bureau widely seen as ineffective but also unfairly using its powers. The recent allegations and reports against the leadership of the bureau have in particular been more damaging,” said Chiphwanya.
The President of the Malawi Law Society, John Suzi Banda, said the ACB’s ‘operational independence has been fatally compromised’.
A governance and corruption survey report report, prepared by Blessings Chinsinga, Boniface Dulani, Peter Mvula and Joseph Chunga, all from Chancellor College recommends undertaking of a comprehensive political economy analysis of the implementation of the anti-corruption efforts which it says will be quite critical in terms of identifying barriers to and opportunities for implementation of anti-corruption strategies.
It also recommends review and strengthening the anti-corruption legislative framework because a robust legal and regulatory framework properly enforced guarantees legitimacy.
The report further encourages promotion of a culture of reporting corrupt activities by both citizens and public officials, among others.
Many people who spoke to Nyasa Times said ACB is always influenced by the political decisions of incumbent leadership and also cited the powers of appointment as the weakest link.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :