Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Dedza East member of Parliament (MP) Juliana Lunguzi took to Twitter to back suggestions that operations of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) be closed down in the country because they are no longer relevant.
First to raise the point was Malawian economist and motivational speaker Henry Kachaje when he made a presentation on governance at the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) annual general meeting in Blantyre, in December 2016.
And Lunguzi on Tuesday made her post on Twitter, where she often share her thoughts on matters of national interest, saying the bureau’s existence has become immaterial.
“Malawi#Tractorgate; Maizegate; Escomgate; ACB is nowehere to be seen now we’ve commission of enquiry.#ACB close it up,” tweeted Lunguzi.
She was apparently referring to the Zambian maize procurement saga which President Peter Mutharika has appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter.
ACB has also indicated that it will—in conjunction with its Zambian counterparts—investigate corrupt elements in the ‘maizegate’.
In his paper titled ‘Corruption: Impact on Political and Socioeconomic Landscape in Malawi’, Kachaje argued that ACB has considerably been compromised.
“We have an ACB in name and not in action. It is just as good as closing and using the money to, perhaps, buy maize or something essential.
“Its drive is not as it was before and the outcry is that such an institution which is benefiting public resources must be seen to deliver and not just being a symbolic institution in the fight against corruption,” argued Kachaje.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national secretary Martin Chiphwanya said recent events at the bureau, such as reports of blocking warrants of arrest and fears of political interference, have led to lack of confidence in its operations.
“We have a bureau widely seen as ineffective but also unfairly using its powers. The recent allegations and reports against the leadership of the bureau have in particular been more damaging,” said Chiphwanya.
The President of the Malawi Law Society, John Suzi Banda, said the ACB’s ‘operational independence has been fatally compromised’.
Other prominent individuals are benefiting.
But ACB director Lucas Kondowe told Capital FM on Wednesday, monitored by Nyasa Times said the organization has made tremendous efforts to be professional in fighting corruption.
“As an institution I can say we have done a great job. There have been criticisms; some constructive and some unconstructive but what I can assure you is that ACB is very professional; it is not a political organization. We are very professional and we will continue to be professional,” said Kondowe.
“I would like to assure Malawians that the organization will protect their interests,” he added
Kondowe said inadequate funding was affecting operation of the bureau.
“I have travelled around the global. I have worked in the United States with the FBI. I have worked with prosecutors in the United States. Those institutions are well funded unlike us. When we bring the case to court we must have enough evidence and for us to have that evidence there is need for thorough investigation which requires more resources,” he said.
A governance and corruption survey report report, prepared by Blessings Chinsinga, Boniface Dulani, Peter Mvula and Joseph Chunga, all from Chancellor College recommends undertaking of a comprehensive political economy analysis of the implementation of the anti-corruption efforts which it says will be quite critical in terms of identifying barriers to and opportunities for implementation of anti-corruption strategies.
It also recommends review and strengthening the anti-corruption legislative framework because a robust legal and regulatory framework properly enforced guarantees legitimacy.
The report further encourages promotion of a culture of reporting corrupt activities by both citizens and public officials, among others.
Many people who spoke to Nyasa Times said ACB is always influenced by the political decisions of incumbent leadership and also cited the powers of appointment as the weakest link.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :