Government has come under intense fire from parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee for drastically slashing budgets for governance institutions, saying this is putting democracy on death bed.
Treasury has drastically slashed budgets for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Ombudsman and the Malawi Human Rights Commission.
Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee Kezzie Msukwa said the governance institutions have been given just 50 per cent of what they asked for, saying there was need to look into the budgets again.
“For instance, the office of the Ombudsman has been given K350 million out of the K800 million they had asked for. This will stifle their operations because they will not be able to investigate, hear and make determinations on many cases due to lack of money,” said Msukwa.
He pointed out that the Office of Ombudsman has always received low levels of funding.
“However, this is an injustice to the constitutional role that the office plays. The Committee specifically noted that despite the low levels of funding, the work produced by the Office of the Ombudsman in the recent years has been particularly impressive. Instead of commending these noble efforts, funding to the institution has continually declined,” Msukwa said.
He also said the ACB lined up fresh cases for the cashgate but with the money they are going to get, the graft busting body will have to put the cases on hold.
The Committee noted with concern the “insufficient and in consistent” funding given to the ACB in previous years.
He said: “This inconsistence affects the planning and executing of the duties of the ACB resulting in flourishing corruption in this country.”
He said the effective functioning of the governance institutions, therefore, “directly correlates to how we as a country, are dealing with issues such as corruption and right to redress when the state or any other body, infringes on our rights to exercise our liberties.”
He said there should be more funds committed to the Judiciary to meet contractual obligations, operational costs and payment of utilities.
“The Judiciary has high vacancy rate, a backlog of cases that need to be cleared and various courts that need to be rehabilitated.
“ Looking into these critical needs, as a Committee, we resolved that the Treasury should consider increasing the funding from an estimated revenue of K11.3 billion to at least K15.7 billion this will enable the Judiciary to fund most of the crucial needs and activities,” Msukwa said.
Msukwa has presented the issue in parliament through a report.
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