Activists Ntata, Chiza launch accountability watchdog

Malawi’s London based law expert Allan Z. Ntata and social-political activist Ben Chiza Mkandawire have launched a citizen-led initiative to help build and ensure public accountability.

The duo launched a watchdog called Independent Commission on Accountability and Transparency (iCAT).

“ICAT is conceived as an independent Commission that will have the broad mandate and functions to undertake programs geared toward investigating, and supporting the prosecuting and preventing acts of corruption in both the public and private sectors of the Malawian society, including educating the public about the ills of corruption and the benefits of its eradication,” Ntata told Nyasa Times.

Ntata:  Corruption watchdog
Ntata: Corruption watchdog
Chia Mkandawire:  Icat for accountability
Chia Mkandawire: Icat for accountability

Ntata a law barrister  who had previously worked at Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) and also served as late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s legal advisor said Icat will ensure to promote transparency, accountability, integrity and access to information at all levels of society in the fight against graft in Malawi.

He also said the watchdog will promote the full and effective participation of stakeholders in the fight against corruption.

Ntata said Icat wants to “break the culture of impunity that has engulfed Malawi by encouraging and supporting the government and the legal system to punish people fairly but effectively in keeping with rule of law in Malawi’s fight against corruption”

He said they want to ensure that corruption investigators and cases are handled fairly, effectively and efficiently, free of political influence in the fight against corruption.

And Chiza Mkandawire said they will also promotes public awareness “related to the direct and indirect cost of corruption to the Malawian people and the role of each citizens in the fight against corruption.”

He also said they will ensure effective monitoring of the fight against corruption through oversight bodies and mechanisms that involve the consistent participation of civil society.

“The iCAT shall consist of five (5) individual members known as Commissioners; one of whom shall serve as Executive Chairperson and one as Vice Chairperson. They shall be nominated and subsequently appointed by an independent recruitment panel constituted for the purpose.

“The Executive Chairperson and Vice Chairperson shall be appointed for a term of five (5) years each, and shall be eligible for reappointment for one additional term of five (5) years. The three ordinary commissioners shall be appointed on a staggered basis with one (1) Commissioner appointed for an initial term of four (4) years, while the other two (2) for three (3) and two (2) years each,” he explained.

Corruption is a major challenge to economic development, poverty alleviation, democratic governance, the justice framework and the rule of law in many countries including Malawi. It leads to imprudent public spending and waste of public resources. The practice is a universal phenomenon that transcends culture, nationality and race.

Malawi is reeling from a mass corruption scandal christened as Cashgate which London based auditors Baker Tilly revealed about K13 billion was lost from 2012.

Government said Cashgate started in 2010 and that K92 billion was lost during the previous regime.

All the audit reports are yet to be discussed in parliament.

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