Catholic Bishops ask gov’t to increase security for Martha Chizuma and all ACB employees

The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) – an association of the Catholic Bishops in Malawi – has asked the government to seriously consider beefing up security for Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) employees, especially Director General (DG) Martha Chizuma.

The call comes amidst threats by political activist Bon Kalindo to close ACB Offices for allegedly allowing the international community to dictate its operations in the prosecution of the cases involving businessman Zuneth Sattar.

Kalindo: Threatened ACB staff while Police pay blind eye

Kalindo has joined a few local human rights activists who are speaking in defence of Sattar and his agents of Asian origin. Others are Bright Kampaundi and Fryson Chodzi of the Forum for National Development (FND).

However, the Catholic Bishops, in their public statement issued on Wednesday, emphasize that “no one should be pressurized, intimidated or influenced by threats or any other means in the carrying out of their work for the good of the country.”

“We plead, in the interest of building a more just and transparent Malawi that benefits all its citizens, that any of the investigations or cases which the ACB is dealing with are not in any way obstructed or influenced. Let no suspect, however powerful, wealthy or who their connections are, be shielded or protected provided that he or she is given proper recourse to the legal processes of the courts,” reads the statement.

The Bishops have also challenged the Tonse Alliance government to relentlessly fight corruption, which they have described as a cancer that is sadly embedded in Malawi and is largely responsible for keeping this country very poor and under-developed.

The say corruption is responsible for the untold suffering for the vast majority of ordinary Malawians who have to face crushing poverty on a daily basis.

“Corruption is a very difficult vice to fight because it has taken deep roots everywhere in our country. And sadly, even many of those tasked to fight and eliminate corruption are too often sucked into it. But occasionally, there are people who risk everything by standing up to corruption. They are shining examples of St. Paul’s exhortation: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph. 5:11).

“Like most Malawians of goodwill and those who want to end the rampant corruption in our country, we sincerely applaud and support the efforts of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and its Director General, Ms. Martha Chizuma for their bravery, professionalism and determination in fighting corruption, especially as they have been doing over the past 6 months,” reads part of the statement, which all the Catholic Bishops have signed.

They include Most Reverend Thomas Msusa – President and Archbishop of Blantyre, Right Reverend Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese, Most Reverend George Tambala of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe and Apostolic Administrator or Zomba Diocese, Right Reverend Montfort Stima of Mangochi Diocese, Right Reverend John Ryan and Right Reverend Peter Chifukwa of Dedza Diocse.

The Bishops have further appealed to the donor community to ensure that ACB has sufficient resources, especially considering the unprecedented fight against corruption the Bureau has put up over the last 6 months.

They also ask the government not to allow State institutions, which were ultimately established for the good of all Malawians and those entrusted to carry out their objectives for the good of all, to become themselves agents of darkness by failing to defend and promote the common good.

The venerated men of God observe that too often these institutions and individuals have betrayed the trust of the citizenry and acted in ways, which have further embedded systemic corruption and frustrated the fight against it.

“The Judiciary has a key role to play in the fight against corruption. We appeal to the Judiciary to ensure that cases regarding corruption are expedited and that everyone is seen to be treated fairly and similarly before the law. This builds public confidence that the Judiciary too is playing its role in a constructive way in the fight against corruption.

“Avoid making suspicious judgments and pronouncements which are seen neither to be promoting justice nor fighting against corruption. Loss of public trust in law enforcement agents of the State to combat corruption fuels mob-justice and is a recipe for civil disorder,” they say.

Additionally, the Bishops have called upon their ECM Justice and Peace Commission and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to initiate a vigorous campaign among the general public to help end the practice of corruption and accepting this destructive cancer as part of life in Malawi.

“We call upon all citizens of Malawi to play their part, however insignificant it may seem, in the fight against corruption in our society. One way of doing this is to stop fleecing politicians by endlessly demanding handouts from them during political rallies, funerals, fundraising activities, religious gatherings and many other occasions.

“On their part, political leaders are encouraged to give to good causes only that which they can ordinarily afford and not suffer the unnecessary pain of giving in ways, which are beyond their ordinary financial means,” concludes the statement.

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