A law giving a Head of State immunity from prosecution on any criminal charges could be repealed if Cabinet and then Parliament endorse recommendations in a report from the National Anti-Corruption Conference.
In April last year, the Malawi Government held a high-profile conference on corruption where stakeholders discuss how to combat corruption in the country, among other issues.
According to a report on the conference, to be presented to Cabinet, there is recommendation to change the law that guarantees immunity to a sitting President from prosecution to any criminal offences including wrongful self-enrichment.
“The Constitution must be revised because it gives too much comfort to the President in terms of the immunity from prosecution during his [or her] tenure,” reads the report in part.
The President cannot be prosecuted on any criminal charges as the law stands now.
But the conference, according to the report, noted t hat the immunity has left successive President in “comfort zone” and with impunity.
“Although the fact that the President can be impeached is already a check and a balance,” it said.
The report also noted the twin evils of nepotism and tribalism, saying “it is surprising” that they were not raised in the consultations as perpetrating corruption.
“It was observed that President often appoints those that are from their home districts. Nepotism and tribalism must be checked under the law,” reads the report.
The report also calls for a new and revised legislation to enhance the corruption fight including the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) to give the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) more independence to exercise its mandate in line with the country’s constitutional obligations as demanded by the people.
This comes against a general low perception on the graft-busting body’s ability to fight corruption in the country with the donor community and civil society organisations already expressing serious concerns.
Several commentators have expressed concern suggesting that the graft-busting body “is morally compromised” and its operations were no longer relevant to the society.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu said the document is ready and will be presented to Cabinet for discussion, justifying the delay, saying they wanted to produce a “credible” document highlighting the recommendations to enable stakeholders to take action.
European Union Ambassador Marchel Germann is on record saying the development partners were still waiting for the official report of the Conference.
Tembenu said the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs would be examining the recommendations and advise the cabinet accordingly.
He however said that for those [recommendations] that were implementable immediately, the government would proceed to do so.
According to Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released on Wednesday, corruption continues to worsen in the country.The index shows that the country has moved down two places from 120 in 2016 to 122 in 2017.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :