The Forum for National Development (FND) and a group social and political activists calling themselves ‘Concerned Citizens’ have “demanded” that the president of the Republic must cease to be the appointing authority of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director and that instead the director should be recruited on merit through Parliament if the fight against graft in Malawi is to be genuinely won with a warning that they will call popular civil disobedience.
FND’s Fryson Chodzi and Bright Kampaundi and Concerned Citizens’ Phillip Kamangira and Samuel Mwale. said the organizations “unequivocally” demand that the Malawi Government and President Mutharika must take decisive steps, as a matter of urgency, to deal with the growing cases of corruption, theft and abuse of public resources at all levels of government.
“We have noted that the ACB director often times strives to please the appointing authority and thereby compromising the fight against graft. It is a shame that the president (Peter Mutharika) vetoed the proposed bill aimed at ensuring total independence for ACB, an act which clearly affirms non commitment to dealing with corruption, decisively,” the two groups read a statement to reporters in Lilongwe on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.
They observe that it is “an open secret” that Malawi has become a good example of a retrogressive economy with no hope for any positive economic growth in the near future because of corruption.
“The unsound financial management, corruption, theft and rampant abuse that have characterized this government since its inception in May, 2014, demonstrate a lack of political and economic direction our country has taken,” reads part of statement.
Reads the statement: “As a matter of urgency, we demand the following from the Head of State and his administration: Free the Anti – Corruption Bureau (ACB); Change in leadership at ACB; Dismantle and name a “Corruption Cartel” as discussed within the Forensic Audit of the MoG 2009 – 2014; and Honour the resolutions from the Public Affairs Committee all –inclusive conference held in February 2016”.
According to the statement, Malawi is currently experiencing the worst corruption levels in the history of our country, which has brought the country to a standstill. Almost every sector is paralyzed due to corrupt practices involving not only middle officers in government but high-ranking officers as well.Businesses do not thrive where corruption is endemic and foreign investors have no motivation to come into a country that is ridden with corruption, it observes.
“The situation in Malawi has become so alarming that even members of the diplomatic community have voiced out their concern over the worsening corruption, which they note has severely affected the social and economic progress.
“The Church, notably the Catholic Bishops, have added their voice against this evil called corruption, saying the ‘business-as-usual’ approach adopted by this government will only help to retain most ordinary Malawians in their poverty trap,” the statement says, adding that the fight against Corruption has become much difficult because corruption-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) seems to be compromised and as a result, it has lost all the trust and integrity it is supposed to have.
The civil society activists note that recent media reports of internal squabbles at ACB among its senior officers is evidence enough that ACB has become a political play ground where its operations are driven by politics and not justice.
They have called upon government to convene Parliament “within the next 21 days in order to discuss a bill that frees the ACB, remove the presidential powers to appoint ACB director and provide oversight functions of the ACB to Parliament.
“The ACB needs to be given power to pursue cases without political interference just as what the Office of the Public Protector in South Africa does as an example. It is a pity that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in its 2014 Manifesto committed to freeing ACB and has derogated on its own pledge and continuously interferes with the operations of the ACB,” they observe.
On their part, they pledge to engage stakeholders and duty bearers in the call for government to act on corruption; mobilize mass action against government’s reluctance to combat corruption, theft and abuse of public resources; and mobilize the masses to boycott businesses and products, which may have links to government officials and may have been corruptly acquired.
“We would like to call upon the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and other stakeholders to follow through the resolutions of the All-Inclusive Conference held in February 2016 and call a new stakeholders meeting to address the current economic crisis and corruption prevailing in the country,” reads the statement.
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