Evangelical Association of Malawi pushes for transparency of political parties funding in readiness of 2019 elections

The Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) – an umbrella mother of 122 church denominations and 58 Christian organisations in Malawi- has said the tabling and enactment of the Political Parties Bill will go a long way in the fight against corruption by enhancing transparency of sources of political parties funding.

Rev Kawalala:Transparency must begin from parties

In a statement released on 27th October in Lilongwe through its social governance arm the Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission (EPJC), EAM urges the government to table and enact the Political Parties Bill before 2019 elections.

“We observe that lack of transparency of sources of political parties funding is also another area that is giving ground to corruption. As a result, this gives room to those parties in government divert public resources through ‘systematic’ means for political campaign and other party interests,” .” reads part of the statement signed by EPJC National Chairperson Rev. Dr. Zacc Kawalala and EPJ National Secretary Makhumbo Munthali.

EAM  observed that there have been reported cases where resources from some public institutions especially in statutory companies have been diverted for political or party functions.

They said in the absence of the Political Parties Bill which seeks to repeal the Political Parties (Registration and Regulation) Act and replace it with a new law which will address the challenges being faced when regulating the registration, financing and function of political parties, political parties especially those in the ruling will continue to abuse public resources meant for development hence giving room to corruption

Adds Kawalala and Munthali:“Government must table and enact the Political Parties Bill as soon as possible –before the Campaign period in order to strengthen transparency and accountability of political parties funding hence reducing opportunities of corruption occurrences.

“The Political Parties Bill besides its conformity and promotion of democratic and constitutional principles of rule of law and good governance also speaks to Article 10 of the African Union Convention on Preventing and combating corruption which clearly obligates each State Party to adopt legislative and other measures to proscribe the use of funds acquired through illegal and corrupt practices to finance political parties; and incorporate the principle of transparency into funding of political parties.”

The statement further states that that key elements of Malawi’s political culture provides fertile ground for corruption.

“The key elements of Malawi’s political culture as noted by professor Blessings Chinsinga during 4th All-Inclusive PAC Conference in 2012 include: prevalence of patronage and clientelism; opportunism and corruption; centralizing authoritarian tendency of the executive; weakness of the citizenry; narrowness of the deliberative public sphere; excessive deference to authority; and fear, docility and suspicion.

“The Cashgate Scandal, the recent Maize scam and the Salima-Lilongwe Water project which was awarded without a feasibility study and not adherence to some procurement procedures to an alleged generous financier of both the rulling DPP and opposition MCP are clear manifestations of Malawi’s political culture. One’s ascension to public office is an open gate to financially rewarding his or her crononies or relatives and friends at the expense of the majority poor.” reads the statement.

EAM also observes that apart from temporary protection measures available during criminal proceedings for the protection of witnesses and reporting persons of corruption, there is apparently no comprehensive regime for the protection of witnesses and experts of corruption cases including ACB officials a scenario that has contributed to some ACB officials to slow down a bit in as far as investigations of serious corrupt allegations are concerned.

“It is a fact, for instance, that because of the death and delay in justice for ACB’s official Issa Njaunju murder some ACB officials have slowed down a bit in as far as investigating serious allegations of corruption for fear of reprisals in the absence of such a comprehensive regime. Malawi must develop a comprehensive regime for the protection of witnesses, whistle blowers and experts including ACB official” reads the statement signed Kawalala and Munthali.

However, the statement commends Malawi for being party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption which it signed, ratified, and deposited for ratification with the Secretary General of UN on 21 September 2004, 31 October 2007, and 4 December 2007 respectively.

“By being party to this Convention, Malawi agrees that prevention and eradication of corruption is the responsibility of all states and that they must cooperate with one another, with the support and involvement of non-state actors including Civil Society, if their efforts in this area is to be effective. We further commend the legal, policy, and institutional measures adopted by Malawi in an attempt to combat corruption”.

The statement further hails government for the Access to Information legislation.

“ Once into operationalization, the Access to Information legislation will go a long way in helping the government, citizens, CSOs, journalists and academia in accessing any information that is required to assist in the fight against corruption and related offences, besides generally enhancing transparency and accountability of the public sector. Malawi’s enactment of Access to Information legislation is also a fulfilment of its international and regional obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption and also the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption respectively,”reads the statement.

The EPJC statement comes at a time when Malawi is reviewing its fight against corruption a process that culminated to a national anti-corruption conference held at Bingu International Conference.

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