Drama and complete chaos has reigned at Malawi’s major northern border crossing of Songwe after the Department of Customs and Excise, under Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), recently arrested 9 customs clearing agents for fraud.
The agents at the border are now demanding the arrest of customs officials who they accuse of corruption by openly soliciting bribes.
One of the customs clearing agents, Grant Mmadi says they are angered more, to the extent of conducting demos on the Malawi’s side of the border, because the action of officials at the border who have now completely sidelined them and are only assisting international drivers.
He gave the background that the agents complained to the department in February that officials at the border are corrupt and listed their names for the department to take action.
“How can we be punished like this? We had to report to their bosses because we love our country and we are given a part to assist government collect border taxes but government was losing the taxes because they officials are telling us to give them bribes. They bravely say ‘Ngatitu simutiwona zinthu zanuzo zizingokhala pompo’,” lamented Mmadi.
He bemoaned the irony in the manner that an entrusted government department has conducted itself.
“Names of the officials were given but the next thing we see is that clearing agents are arrested and thrown in jail, for what? Serving mother Malawi by naming and shaming corrupt officials? If they are are serious we should see the police here arresting those officials in there taking them to Mzuzu and throwing them in jail. Not us, we are the victims here,” the irate Mmadi said.
A statement by MRA after the arrest of the 9 customs clearing agents quoted the Head of Internal Affairs, Mcsyd Chalunda saying MRA places a high value on integrity and does not tolerate cases of fraud involving its members of staff.
“Any member of staff involved in such malpractices shall face disciplinary action which may include summary dismissal in accordance with MRA’s Conditions of Service,” this was Chalunda’s remarks that customs clearing agents at Songwe want to be actualised by flaunting and flushing out all the corrupt officials at Songwe border.
Security officials from the immigration and police say they are meeting with customs department to come up with solutions as they say the situation is dangerous because some may enticed to take advantage and breach border requirements.