Malawi rights watchdog implores JB to personally tackle issues of national interest

The country’s rights watchdog, Malawi Human Right Commission (MHRC) has implored the state president Joyce Banda to demonstrate “visible and decisive leadership” in dealing with critical issues of national interest that have demonstrated a breakdown of transparency and accountability mechanisms “of a serious magnitude” in Malawi.

In statement on the alleged misappropriation of public resources at Capital Hill,  the Commission says while the President may not single-handedly address the matters, she should however publicly condemn these acts and provide the much-needed policy direction and oversight over actions being devised.

“The President should be seen implementing and addressing the issues as opposed to the seemingly relegation of the matters to be handled through delegation to other offices. The President, relevant public sector leaders and other duty bearers must not only act but must be seen to be acting promptly and decisively on these issues,” reads the statement in part.


It says it is imperative that these issues are appropriately acknowledged as a serious problem by this country’s leadership and be earnestly, promptly and decisively addressed, to rid the public sector of fraud and corruption and restore confidence in the public administration.

The Commission says the performance of Government duties relating to human rights is affected directly and indirectly by the availability of resources, including financial resources.

As such, the Commission recommends that while investigating the recently uncovered incidences and dealing with those implicated in accordance with the law, the law enforcement authorities must ensure that all matters that were uncovered under the former administrations do not stall.

“In particular, speedy and thorough investigations must be conducted so that long outstanding matters are concluded and new matters do not stall in order to check impunity.”

Furthermore, the Commission calls upon Government to ensure that law enforcement agencies, in particular the Police and the Anti-Corruption Bureau are adequately resourced to discharge their roles effectively.

Where ever appropriate, the statement says the leadership of the concerned Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies should ensure that appropriate administrative measures are applied with respect to officers that may be implicated to prevent incidences where such officers compromise and jeopardize on-going investigations.

“The fight against corruption and abuse of public resources can only be effective if justice is applied equally to perpetrators and if suspects are handled equally, irrespective of seniority, ranking or perceived or actual political affiliation,” says the statement.

President Banda on Thursday s sacked her entire cabinet amid a corruption scandal, dubbed Cashgate by the media.

Up to 10 government officials have been arrested – including one who kept $25,000 at home and another who stashed banknotes in a car boot. They have been charged with money laundering, misuse of public office and corruption.

Nine senior police officers were each jailed for 14 years last month for their roles in a $164,000 fraud. Paul Mphwiyo, a budget officer in the Ministry of Finance who was seen as an anti-corruption crusader, was shot and seriously injured last month in an apparent effort to silence him.

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