Open letter to President Chakwera over leadership crisis and corruption in Malawi

We, Malawian academics and professionals in the diaspora, note with great concern the  growing leadership crisis in Malawi and the worsening socio-economic conditions which  have made life unbearable for ordinary Malawians.

We are disappointed that the promise  of a new dawn represented by the decisions of the High Court, sitting as the Constitutional  Court, and the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, which nullified the 2019 presidential  election and ordered a fresh presidential election, remains unfulfilled.

State President Dr Lazarus Chakwera meeets Vice President Saulos Chilima-pic by Lisa Kadango (2)

The Tonse Alliance government revealed, upon assuming power, mindboggling levels of  looting and corruption committed under the previous government. Malawians expected that  the new government would draw a line behind state looting and corruption, firstly, by  investigating and prosecuting all those implicated and, secondly, by putting in place  mechanisms to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.

Indeed, in his own words, the newly  elected president repeatedly proclaimed that one of his government’s priorities was to  “clear the rubble” of corruption that had permeated the Malawian body politic.

Malawians  were hopeful that, at last, they had voted into power a government that would fight corruption not just with empty words but concrete actions. 

However, almost two years down the line, corruption and looting are getting worse. We are  alarmed at the regularity with which revelations about new corruption and looting scandals  are being made.

These scandals have implicated those at the very top of the government,  businesspeople, civil servants, police, and military officials.

In response, the government  has at best exhibited an indifferent attitude and at worst behaved in a manner that suggests  a coverup or an intention to obstruct the course of justice. 

Institutions legally empowered to investigate and prosecute corruption such as the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) have been weakened and isolated. Intimidation tactics have  included public emasculation of the Director General of the ACB and the deployment of  mercenary protesters. Presidential instructions to the ACB also undermine its  independence. 

Moreover, the police and other law enforcement agencies appear to be pursuing  investigations and prosecution of alleged perpetrators of massive theft and abuse of state  resources only half-heartedly, or at any rate without any apparent sense of urgency. The  Ministry of Justice, which is supposed to be the bastion of the rule of law, has lost direction. 

At the centre of this depressing state of affairs is the absence of political leadership. Within  government, there appears to be no political will to address once and for all the growing  socio-economic and other problems the country faces.

On its part, the opposition is  fragmented and lacks the legitimacy and credibility to serve as a rallying point for change.  For the ordinary person, there is no hope.

Malawi faces an existential crisis as a country, a  crisis which is human-made, and is therefore humanly resolvable. The erosion of faith in  the ability or willingness of the government and political leaders to address the country’s  mounting socio-economic crisis does not augur well for the future of politics in our country. 

Aside from the promise of a new dawn that was ushered in by the election of the Tonse  Alliance, there was also the promise of an enhanced form of civic engagement in political  and public affairs by ordinary Malawians.

Civil society – represented by non-governmental organizations, religious and faith-based organizations, professional associations, youth and women’s organizations, individual social and political activists, among others – played a  significant role in keeping the previous government under a watchful eye and subjecting it  to legitimate criticism on issues of corruption and bad governance.

We note with  disappointment, however, that while some of these civil society voices have remained  vigilant in identifying the failures of leadership and the broken promises of change under  the Tonse Alliance government, others have become muted, willfully or otherwise, or seem  to have been co-opted into the culture of corruption that they previously decried. 

We call upon the government to rise to the occasion and fulfill the responsibility bestowed  on it by the electorate on 23 June 2020. We believe that the legal and policy tools to fight  corruption are in place, and concrete action in this regard does not need to wait for future  public consultations, including a conference on corruption.

We urge: 

  • The ruling parties to review the promises they made to the people of Malawi and  ensure that they make a genuine effort to adopt and implement policies that would  improve the economy and living conditions of the people. 
  • The government and all its agencies to uphold the rule of law and respect the  independence of all crime-fighting agencies. The government must provide adequate  support to these agencies. 
  • The Ministry of Justice to fulfill its responsibilities professionally and ensure that  justice is administered in a just and fair manner. 
  • The government should suspend all those implicated in corruption and looting,  without prejudice to their constitutionally guaranteed right to presumption of  innocence, and ensure that criminal allegations are investigated and prosecuted  expeditiously. 
  • The government to strengthen all institutions of accountability and ensure that they  function under optimum conditions and independently. 
  • Civil society organizations to remain vigilant, independent and principled in  demanding accountability and transparency from those who hold power. 

Signed 

1. Sibo Banda, Maynooth University Law Department, Ireland
2. Alex Chanthunya, Private Attorney, Maryland, United States
3. Josiah Chavula, Computer Scientist, University of Cape Town, South Africa
4. Danwood Chirwa, Dean and Professor of Law, University of Cape Town, South Africa
5. Wanangwa Chirwa, Professor and SAFCOL Forestry Chair, University of Pretoria, South Africa
6. Dr. Daniel Dube, Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Consultant Physician, Plum Telemed Inc, United States
7. Mafaniso Hara, Professor, PLAAS, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
8. Sumera Haroon, Financial Reporting Specialist, Bremen, Germany
9. James Kadyampakeni, Chief Economic Advisor, Government of Canada
10. Alexander Kambiri, Development Management Specialist, Bonn, Germany
11. Dr. John Lwanda, Hon. Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Health & Wellbeing, Glasgow University, United Kingdom
12. Tom Likambale, Ottawa, Canada
13. Edward Lizi, FDS (RCPS), retired Oral Surgeon, United Kingdom
14. Tiyanjana Maluwa, H. Laddie Montague Chair in Law & Professor of Law and International Affairs, Penn State University School of Law, United States
15. Samuel Manda, Professor and Head of Department of Statistics, University of Pretoria, South Africa
16. Jack Mapanje, Poet, Writer and retired Professor of English and Linguistics, United Kingdom
17. Sam A. Mchombo, Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies, University of California at Berkeley, United States
18. Mtendewaka Mhango, Professor and Dean of Law, University of Lesotho, Lesotho
19. Martin Mkandawire, Professor of Chemistry, Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia, Canada
20. Fulata Lusungu Moyo, Founder and Board Member, Thimlela-STREAM, Dullier, Switzerland
21. Lupenga J. Mphande, Associate Professor and Director of Study Abroad, Department of African American and African Studies, Ohio State University, United States
22. Mpalive-Hangson Msiska, Reader Emeritus in English and Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom
23. Leah Mwambene, Professor and Deputy Dean of Law, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
24. Dr. Cromwell P Msuku, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist (Retired), Buffalo, NY, United States
25. Chatonda Mtika, Electrical Engineer, Washington, DC, United States
26. Mwiza Munthali, Civil Society Activist, formerly of TransAfrica, Washington, DC, United States
27. Dr. Geoffrey S. Mwaungulu, FACP (Internal Medicine), Former Medical Director for Medicare Advantage, Inverness, FL, United States
28. Paul Mzandu, Senior Programmer Analyst, Department of National Defence, Canada
29. Edwards Ndovi, Consultant Physician and Professor of Medicine at the University of Alberta, Canada
30. Cedrick G. Ngalande, Senior Principal Systems Engineer, Raytheon Intelligence & Space Systems, Los Angeles, United States
31. Bryne Ngwenya, Professor of Microbial Geochemistry, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
32. Louis Nthenda, Professor Emeritus and Writer, Fujisawa City, Japan
33. Linda L. Semu, Professor of Sociology, McDaniel College, Maryland, United States
34. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Associate Provost and the North Star Distinguished Professor, Case Western Reserve University, United States

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Mussa
Mussa
18 days ago

Abusa malemu Same adati mbuli zophunzira.
Ma pulofesa tsopano kkkkkkkk

Chifundo Ganizani
Chifundo Ganizani
20 days ago

How can no one have commented?

Sibonda
Sibonda
22 days ago

Just come back home folks.No need making noise from there!

braveheart
22 days ago

There’s nothing m’busa can do&to b surprised now by this list of fake so so so z ,diaspora bla bla & I don’t see any diaspora representative who seem ordinary apart from a list of guys with useless credentials that have never helped Malawi rather fatten their stomach with greed.Why doesn’t the list seem not to have ordinary people?R there no Malawians ordinary in diaspora?this type of thinking is what is dupping Malawi until today.People with these useless qualifications are ones who have left Malawi down.. that perception of thinking qualifications can deliver has left Malawians inside a box created… Read more »

Chalula
Chalula
23 days ago

All issues raised in their letter have already been presented by many Malawians living in Malawi. These professionals need to be a little bit proactive if they’re really serious about helping the country – this could be demonstrated by returning home to help develop the country and fight corrupt practices not just writing a letter to the government with its content repeating what every Malawian has already raised. Sadly, to a rational mind, their open letter is more of a credentials show off instead of solution focus.

Nongolo
Nongolo
23 days ago

Momwe ndikuonera apamu kusonyeza kuti onse omwe aika maina awo apa ndi Anthu oti amadya ndi dpp nde relo akusowa kotapa ndrama thats why ndiokhumudwa.
Mapulomiss amapanga kamodzi nkamodzi?

Fletcher
Fletcher
24 days ago

Where Malawi is now, we need a rigorous national action plan on socio-political awareness targeting the citizenry in a way of rebuilding sense of patriotism and social responsibility. Therefore, i would suggest that Malawians in the diaspora should not just speak out from outside but perhaps take the lead in the action plan of liberating our country from socio-economic evils such as corruption, poverty, poor governance etc. Critically speaking, the bottom line of these problems is no other than the consciousness of the citizenry that need urgently need redress. One wonders having reached this far, Malawi has a lot of… Read more »

Chifundo Ganizani
Chifundo Ganizani
24 days ago

Firstly, all of you should come back to malawi and then talk.
You are serving in other nations and enjoying the dolar and euro?.

Zibwana!

Bridget Manyalo
Bridget Manyalo
24 days ago

As a Malawian i am really disappointed with this government before the fresh elections they promised to give us full medication but in return they are still adding salt on the already existing wounds.. Which is unfair. In short they are the best hypocrites all they needed was money to cover what they lost for the past years..

Basa
Basa
24 days ago

You guys if I may ask you, what have you done to your country, Malawi? Sorry, let me extend the question. What have you done to your family members and your home villages. Your are just so called intellectuals without footprints in your own country, village and you want to criticize the government. Your family members akuvutika kuno not because of the government but you don’t help them. Mukungofuna kutionetsa list ya kuti muli kunja basi. The list is useless. With or without you, Malawi will progress. We have people who fights for Malawians here. We don’t need anthu amene… Read more »

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