The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has challenged government to go beyond arresting people suspected to have taken part in K1 trillion (over $1 billion) looting from public coffers through corruption during former president Peter Mutharika’s administration, saying there should be efforts to recover the money from the culprits.
Money Laundering Act states that government can recover money lost due to serious crime from a convicted person and a person who benefited or was connected to the offence.
CCJP said in a statement signed by its National Coordinator Boniface Chibwana that government should ensure that more efforts are put in place to prevent and strengthen existing systems in combating corruption.
A statement cited political, legal and institutional factors as some of the obstacles in the fight against corruption over the years.
As a governance and advocacy arm of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), it generally viewed the fight against corruption as having been insincere.
CCJP said it is closely and critically observing the desirable and practical steps recently taken by the government in the fight.
“The recent spate of arrests of suspects may further excite the majority poor Malawians. Nevertheless, the systemic nature of the vice in the country requires much more.
“Institutional, legal, professional and financial safeguards should be the focus of the reforms to attain a corrupt-free Malawian society,” reads the statement in part.
It among others cited the dissolution of the boards of parastatals, the reformist approach to handling government business in ministries, departments, agencies and local councils which have pointed to a renewed and rejuvenated way of fighting the malpractice.
Chibwana advocated for a change in the professional behaviours of people associated with public service and an audit of their lifestyles together with their close associates
“That the Government should optimally utilize the legal potentials by carrying out lifestyle audits of public servants and their close associates to detect corruption.
“That the Government should strive to recover public resources and assets in the numerous corruption cases it is pursuing within reasonable time. enthused the CCJP Coordinator.
According to Chibwana, the recognition of merit and excellence in the public service as well as restoring the culture and spirit of servant-hood in public service provision have the potential to combat corruption in Malawi.
“From experience failure to correct these aspects has led the country into the current situation where corruption is rife and is a norm
“Additionally, beyond the arrests, Malawians yearn for the recovery of their tax money and property lost in the numerous illicit and corrupt deals
He indicated that institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Office of the Ombudsman, Directorate of Assets Declaration, Fiscal Police and the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) needed to be independent and adequately funded.
Chibwana implored on Parliament, through its relevant committees, to rise above party politics and exercise the effective oversight on the management of public affairs.
He stated that reports from the Office of the Auditor General on government accounts should be acted upon with urgency as Malawians are interested to see the logical conclusions of the cases.
The organisation bemoaned the practice of transferring of errant and culpable officials in local councils and stressed on the enhancement of appropriate systems of checks and accountability.
President Lazarus Chakwera has vowed to apprehend, without mercy, those involved in corruption, saying the scale of the plunder undwr DPP’s watch is worse than a 2013 corruption scandal known as Cashgate in which about $32 million government money was looted through dubious contracts, during the administration of former president Joyce Banda.
Chakwera said his government will not have mercy on those who were involved in the plunder of government finances.
He says “although I earlier said that those involved in malpractice should just refund the money, doing so is not enough, because the amount of taxpayers’ money which has been stolen is too big. So it is wrong to say that those involved should only be forgiven.”
Chakwera said he has already instructed the Minister of Justice to discuss with relevant stakeholders like the Malawi Police Service Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Judiciary to expedite cases of theft and corruption.
This, he said, includes cross-checking all civil servants workers earnings against wealth they have.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :