Fact sheet on enhanced fight against corruption and fraud in Malawi

This is a press statement issued by State House press office.

Key Facts

  • Her Excellency the President Dr. Joyce Banda’s policy on corruption and fraud is zero tolerance for the vices.

  • The culture of stealing in government became entrenched and has accelerated in the past 12 years. This is a fact which even opposition leaders have admitted to the media. But it is only now that we have top level political will to end it.

  • When fraudulent activities were exposed, President Banda immediately, vociferously and strongly moved to hunt perpetrators and punish them.

  • After noting loopholes in IFMIS, the President immediately suspended it, unlike the previous government, which left the system unchecked.

  • President Banda is Malawi’s only leader who has not just strengthened the Assets Declaration Bill, but also accelerated its enactment.

Policy position

President Banda’s policy on corruption and fraud is aptly and clearly captured in her maiden State of the Nation Address delivered in Parliament on May 18, 2012 and reinforced in other major addresses, including the one to the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) Annual Economic Conference on September 5 2013. In the State of the Nation Address, the State President vowed to curb excesses in government procurement and stamp out corruption. The President also committed to strengthen governance and accountability institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Auditor General. “The culture of officials ‘mending their roofs’ at the expense of the public purse must be eliminated. Those who abuse public funds must account for their actions,” said the President way back in 2012. That is what is happening now.

Malawi President Joyce Banda

Malawi President Joyce Banda

Actions Taken Before Cash-gate

President Banda’s administration has surely walked the tough talk against fraud and corruption. The President made some of the major strategic decisions way before the boil that the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) governments hid for too long before being exposed and burst by the People’s Party (PP) administration. President Banda took the following steps that helped to blow the Capital Hill syndicates after remaining hidden for decades:

  • On 5th September, 2013 the President told the Economics Association Annual Conference that two months earlier she had summoned senior government officials, among them the former Minister of Finance and ordered action on reported pilferage at Capital Hill. The former minister was given four weeks to carry out the task. A task force was formed for this purpose, with the express purpose of finding lasting solutions to IFMIS problems and developing mechanisms for checking fraud. The looting at Capital Hill was exposed two months later.

  • The President directed the Attorney General and relevant government agencies to broaden the Asset Declaration Bill so that it also includes other public officers (especially civil servants) to declare their assets as well instead of just the Presidency, Ministers and Members of Parliament. This has proved to be a wise move given the recent revelations that civil servants are the major plunderers.

  • President Banda ordered the Ministry of Justice to speed up drafting of the Assets Declaration Bill and ensure that it is tabled in Parliament in November.

After Cash-gate

  • The President immediately ordered wide-ranging investigations into Capital Hill’s fraudulent activities, stating that no one—not even members of her family, if they are involved—should be spared.

  • The President called for an emergency meeting of Parliament to discuss the matter with a view to finding bipartisan solutions to the national problem.

  • President Banda met leaders of Opposition, Development Partners, Civil Society and other stakeholders to update them on the developments and actions taken and to hear their views on the matter. Political party leaders pledged to support the President in this fight against fraud and pilferage.

  • She directed that IFMIS be suspended and that all transactions revert to manual pending rectification of problems in the payment system and sealing of loopholes.

  • The President particularly directed the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to:

  • Ensure that the suspects are dealt with expeditiously according to law;

  • Trace, then attach/seize/freeze the suspects’ properties and bank accounts;

  • Review the legal framework to introduce, where necessary, reforms to catch fraudsters and deter others. And to review the Anti-Corruption Act and work on the possibility of establishing an Anti-Corruption Court.

  • The Government has developed an action matrix—covering investigations, and prosecutions, Auditing, Accounting; Administrative and Reforms. The aim is to ensure all areas requiring serious attention are attended to.

  • On President Banda’s instructions, the following have also been done so far:

  • The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has set up a dedicated team of five (5) lawyers mandated to prosecute with speed and, where necessary, immediately support the Anti-Corruption Bureau with prosecutorial services.

  • The Director of Public Prosecutions has further received finances for its operations to register quick progress on the cases.

  • The Ministry of Justice is working with the Ministry of Lands and the Road Traffic Directorate to ensure that real estate and motor vehicles owned by civil servants as well as their relatives are profiled and tracked.

  • Seriously and urgently push for the reform of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act to ensure creation a civil assets seizure regime and protection of whistle blowers and witnesses.

  • The President has also assembled a team of local and international experts in ICT, forensics and special investigations to comb through government business processes, identify loopholes, culprits and recover some of the stolen funds.

  • The President has established a Forensic Unit within the Anti-Corruption Bureau to enhance investigations. The Unit will carry out forensic audit on payments undertaken in the past five years.

Conclusion

Her Excellency President Dr. Joyce Banda is on top of the fraud scandal. Her commitment to fight fraud and corruption has never been stronger. It is, therefore, important that all Malawians, irrespective of their political leanings, should come together to support the President and be part of the solution to the pilferage.

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