A Private Member’s Bill that sought to trim presidential powers in the appointment of Malawi’s anti-corruption body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), top brass was defeated on Thursday mainly by MPs from government benches.
Lilongwe South-West member of Parliament (MP) Peter Chakhwantha (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) tabled a Private Member’s Bill that seeks to trim presidential powers in the appointment of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) top brass.
The bill sought amendment of sections 5 and 7 of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) to enhance the independence of the operations of the ACB.
It proposed that Section 5 (1) of the CPA which reads that “the President shall, on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit, appoint the director” should be deleted and be replaced with “the director shall be appointed by the Public Appointments Committee on such conditions as the committee shall think fit”.
Chakhwantha also proposed an additional Section 5(3) which outlines that the director of ACB would be appointed after the committee calls for nominations from the public through an advert placed by the Clerk of Parliament.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu argued that powers of the President to appoint were entrenched in the Constitution and the Public Appointments Committee to provide checks and balances in the work of ACB.
But Dedza East parliamentarian Juliana Lunguzi wondered why government is afraid to let the office of ACB be independent and do their work without interference.
“Mr deputy speaker sir, let me make my point straight that this bill is good if we indeed what we preach as reforms are anything to go by. I’m at pains to see some of members in this House from that side (government) turning down this bill , what are they afraid of?
“ I’m speaking here on behalf of my fellow youths who are in majority , I’m also speaking here on behalf of my fellow women who are in majority , this bill seeks to protect them from corruption that rich people in minority deliberately do by stealing the money.
“Let me tell you I know some of you here your old and you already done your future and we’re here to make future of those youths , those children of yours who they might not even know that their parent was an MP when your gone , some of you can die today and we’re doing these for mother Malawi in future. We need ACB to be independent.”
Peoples Party (PP) parliamentarian for Zomba Malosa, Roy Akajuwe Banda questioned why the DPP government is against the Bill when in its manifesto for 2014 elections it clearly said and he quoted: “The DPP government will reduce concentration of power in the presidency. Appointment and removal of the Governor of the RBM, Director of the ACB, the Audit General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Clerk of Parliament, Malawi Human Rights Commission Executive Secretary, the Malawi Law Commissioner, the Director General of the MBC, MACRA Director General, and the leaders of other accountability institutions shall be appointed on merit through a Special Public Appointments Committee. The DPP government will pursue Zero Tolerance on Corruption, Bribery, Fraud and Theft of government resources.”
But the DPP government led government with alliance from United Democratic Front and some independent members of parliament led by Lilongwe city Centre parliamentarian David Bisnowaty turned down the bill through division vote with 82 votes and opposition got 75 votes.
In his immediate reaction following the turn down of the bill, leader of opposition in parliament Lazarus Chakwera said it was sad that Malawians have been let down by “few greedy and overzealous “members of parliament.
“It is a sad day for this nation. The ones who campaigned for the reforms now are disowning the reforms and their own manifestos , changing like chameleons, we will still fight for the poor to ensure its poor Malawians who wins,” Chakwera said.
He said the rejection of the bill is terrible blow to democracy and its essential tenents of transparenct and accountability.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :