National Anti-Corruption Alliance (NACA) has welcomed the arrest of the Minister of Energy, Newton Kambala, and two others in connection to the aborted fuel supply contracts at National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA).
Malawi’s graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), on Monday afternoon pounced on Kambala, Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) president Enock Chihana and Chief Advisor to the President on Strategy, Chris Chaima Banda, for allegedly attempting to influence the award of fuel supply contracts at NOCMA.
The trio is currently facing interrogation at the ACB Head Office in Lilongwe where hordes of UTM and AFORD supporters are converging outside the offices to offer moral support to their leaders.
Reacting to the development on Tuesday, NACA – a grouping of civil society organizations (CSOs) working in the fight against corruption and graft – commended ACB for moving in swiftly to arrest the three, and further called upon the Bureau and other relevant authorities to complete their investigations with diligence and to prosecute those found with a case to answer without delay and according to international fair trial standards.
In the statement signed by its chairperson Moses Mkandawire, the Alliance says it does not want to see any delays to the case considering that the arrests are coming after investigations by the ACB, which, they claim to have been told, confirmed political interference.
“As an Alliance, we reiterate our call for expeditious establishment of the Financial Crimes Court to fast track and efficiently dispose of cases of corruption and theft of public funds, which remain prevalent in the country. We believe that the special court would really help the country to deal with the backlog of stagnating cases,” reads the statement in part.
The grouping says Malawians have exercised enough patience over delays in prosecuting corruption cases and that any further delays will not be acceptable.
“It is, therefore, our hope that government will expedite the establishment of this special court in order to accelerate prosecution and resolution of these cases,” it stresses.
On the other hand, NACA has called upon President Chakwera to show decisive leadership by firing the minister and his adviser to make way for effective investigations and prosecutions of the matter.
It argues that the ACB investigation notwithstanding, Chakwera should commit to an investigation into how such conduct is able to happen within inner circles of government.
“Considering the recent loans bill debacle, such an investigation should reflect on the recruitment and supervision of government officials and the policies and procedures which govern their conduct. It is a matter of grave concern that minister and his adviser are still in service and why the President has not made an official statement to the matter,” narrates NACA.
It further states that even though any person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, the failure to, at least, suspend these individuals pending resolution of the matter sends a negative signal about Chakwera’s commitment to purge his administration of corruption.
“Therefore, the Alliance calls upon President Chakwera to lead by example and not empty rhetoric on ending corruption, which is one of the pillars of his “Super Hi 5”, by sacking all ministers, advisers and officials involved in this scandal. As an Alliance, we also expect that the arrest of the three will compel the President to reorganize his cabinet. The involvement of the cabinet minister, his presidential adviser and the Tonse Alliance partner, AFORD’s president Enock Chihana, is an indicator that the President did not do enough screening before appointing his cabinet.
“This development is thus an opportunity for the President to pick his new team based on competency and not political expediency. It is against this background that we urge the President to immediately reshuffle his cabinet. Our expectation is that all those implicated in corruption will not be included in the President’s next cabinet,” emphasizes NACA.
In a related development, the Alliance has commended the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) and the ACB for listening to our request for them to focus on lifestyle audits and recovery of assets.
It says the commitment to recover stolen assets needs to be sustained as it is a vital strategy for curbing corruption in all its forms.
“Once the stolen money is recovered, it can be invested in the people through social programmes and infrastructure development that could uplift the lives of our people. Asset forfeiture is also about sending a strong message that crime will not pay, and that there will be no impunity. Therefore, we urge anti-graft bodies to continue on this route. If we, as a country, are to win the fight against corruption, this is the route we should be taking,” it concludes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :