A local social political commentator Makhumbo Munthali says the outcome of country’s biggest anti-corruption conference ended in Lilongwe organized by government has vindicated Malawi’s vibrant multi-faith body Public Affairs Committee (PAC) which has all along been pressing for strong political will to address the scourge of corruption in Malawi.
PAC has recently landed itself in trouble with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) following its recent statement that the DPP leadership had failed the country by amongst other things failing to deal with corruption and also not addressing the issues raised at the 5th all-inclusive stakeholders’ conference held in February 2016.
However, during a National Anti Corruption Conference held at t Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) it turned out that some of the issues which were raised during PAC’s 5th all-inclusive stakeholders’ conference, and also during its recent public statements were prominent during this government-led conference.
“It is interesting to note that some of the key issues that were raised during PAC’s 5th all-inclusive stakeholders conference last year, and those recently raised by PAC and other CSOs like Youth and Society, Church and Society of CCAP Livingstonia Synod, MLS, CCJP and CHRR dominated the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs’ consultation paper which was delivered by the Solicitor General on the first day, and also the subsequent agreed points during the conference which were partially presented during his speech by the Minister of Justice before the President on the second day,” said Munthali, a Lilongwe based analyst who is also the National Secretary of the Ethics, Peace, and Justice Commission (EPJC).
He added:“For example, issues relating to reducing of Presidential powers as regards to the appointment of ACB directors; selective justice on cashgate, maize gate and other high profile cases; the problem of patronage, cronyism, nepotism and clientelism as breeding ground for corruption; the need to pass a law on sources of political parties funding; the lack of independence of ACB; breach of procurement procedures; and also the need for strong political will especially by the President to fight corruption had been previously raised in either PAC’s all-inclusive conferences and recent statements or by the mentioned CSOs and others.
“ All this coupled by the fact that other prominent figures including the Speaker of National Assembly, the EU ambassador, and also Kenyan professor Lumumba also raised these issues during the conference largely vindicates PAC as a voice for the voiceless.”
However, Munthali said the fact that some of the issues which were raised during the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs-initiated consultations and conference on corruption had been previously by PAC and other stakeholders does not mean that the conference was irrelevant.
“It was a brilliant idea by to host these consultations and conference on corruption in order to get the views from the various stakeholders under the 8 pillars of National Anti-corruption Strategy of 2008. The inclusive, openness and objective manner in which the Minister Tembenu himself spearheaded these consultation meetings as well as the actual conference especially the first day is something worthy commending him.
“ It required a sense of humility, calmness, courage, tolerance, and openness for one to lead consultations on such a highly sensitive and often politicized topic,” he said.
Munthali said while some issues may have already been raised during PAC forums, the fact that they were also raised on the Lilongwe forum provided more credibility, attention, and call to urgent action by the relevant duty bearers to address the same.
In addition, other new issues and strategies like the need for review of laws on anti-corruption in order to check if they are adequate in the fight against corruption were also raised.
“ It is therefore premised on this that the conference provided a renewed hope for a collective action in addressing the issues raised in. Not only that while government may have perceived PAC as politically- motivated for advancing the common shared issues, the fact that they were also raised by other stakeholders-besides PAC- means government may now collaborate with PAC in addressing those issues in the general interest of the nation.” argued Munthali.
Munthali also urged government to come up with a clear strategy on how it would address the agreed action points from the conference.
Speaking on behalf of all development partners, the EU ambassador Germann faulted the snail’s pace in investigation and prosecuting corrupt cases involving high-profile personalities and asked government to speed up the same.
“High profile and high value corruption cases should be accelerated. Recent forensic audits have revealed the systematic plunder of public resources, but most of the culprits have, so far, not been charged let alone sentenced. As the President himself has said, there should be no sacred cows” argued Germann
Kenyan Professor Patrick Loch Lumumba emphasized that political will especially from the President was key in the fight against corruption
“The tone in the fight against corruption must start from the top. It is becoming a license in Africa that if you want to join politics then you must be a thief of any kind. You need an independent anti-corruption bureau to fight corruption. Any anti-corruption bureau director must be someone who is a crusader with divine mission to eradicate corruption. As long as our politics is not clean, we will not fight corruption.
The Speaker of National AssemblyRichard Msowoya urged Malawians that the fight against corruption must be premised on concrete conviction if Malawi was to be victorious
“Corruption is a about mindset. Is our fight against corruption premised on concrete conviction that we fight this evil? There can never be perceptions of corruption if there is no reality of corruption. It is wrong to suggest that theft and corruption are not related. You can’t be corrupt without having a mentality of theft.” Argued Msowoya.
The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, under the stewardship of Tembenu, commenced nationwide consultation process between March and April 2017 with the key stakeholders under the 8 pillars of the National-Anti Corruption Strategy of 2008 in order to hear their views in the fight against corruption and what needs to be done to defeat the vice and win the war.
The climax of the consultation process was a high level 2-days National Anti-Corruption Conference held between 27 and 28 April at Bingu International Conference in Lilongwe – attracted over 300 delegates from across the country and beyond.
In his speech at the end of the conference Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu all the resolutions of the conference will be submitted to Cabinet for discussions after the justice ministry examines the proposals.
“Your Excellency, towards the end of the dialogue as the delegates returned from their groups with their recommendations, all of them pointed to leadership as being the main driver in the fight against corruption. I agree entirely,” he said.
The two-day conference was, among others, attended by ministers, judges, donors, heads of constitutional bodies, academia, civil society and experts.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :