Start from the top

 

In April, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs hosted a national anti-corruption conference which brought together representatives from various sectors. Our reporter AYAMI MKWANDA engages Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Lucas Kondowe on the way forward.

Kondowe: We need to reward whistle-blowers

Q

: What were the main talking points at the conference?

A

:A lot of issues were discussed. Some discussions centred on policy and legislation. We looked at why the instruments that we have adopted as a nation to aid in the fight against corruption are not working and if there is need to review these legal instruments, law and strategy.  Further, we discussed what should be done to promote a culture of whistle-blowing.

Another issue was how the judicature can assist in the fight of corruption in light of issuance of injunctions against; commencement of prosecution;certain bodies which are charged with decision making like an employer from dismissing an employee or in the case of the university, injunctions against grades.

We also discussed the Access to Information Act on the part of the media, especially how to use this legislation as a tool for fighting and checking corruption. We also looked at how we can deal effectively with corruption in the Police Service so that the service reverts back to their role as a law enforcement agency rather than a law breaking agency.

 

Q: What resolutions were made to help curb corruption in Malawi?

A

: The culture of protectionism which prevents people from reporting those indulging in corruption should be curtailed. Leadership must take lead. There is also lack of ethics and the right attitude. The education system needs to integrate civics and integrity. Existing institutions and systems should be strengthened. There is need for orientation of officers in public service. Recruitment should be based on merit. Dissemination of instruments should be promoted to all relevant officers and stakeholders. The media should be able to follow up on its own stories. The media and politicians need to be educated on the negative consequences of publicising of ongoing corruption cases. There must be put in place an anti-corruption policy.

Q

: What can we borrow from other countries?

A

: We need to encourage whistle-blowing. For instance, by giving whistle-blowers a percentage of the money recouped from corruption as is the case in Nigeria. We should borrow from Nigeria and Zambia. For instance, Nigeria has a particular legislation on whistle-blowing. The media practitioners and the public should be oriented on the Access to Information Act and pieces of legislation relating to corruption.

 

Q

: But the fight needs to start from the top.

A

: Yes, the fight should start from the top, the presidency.The President should not be seen to be shielding some people. Most institutions lack human and financial resources to fully discharge their mandate. Therefore, there is a need to increase resources to major anti-corruption institutions to properly discharge their mandate. National integrity committees can deal with issues of corruption in the private sector as well. Encourage procuring entities to enter into framework agreements. Adoption of e-procurement. The President needs to mention the fight about corruption on a daily basis. Wake up from denial. Accept that we are corrupt and devise means to fight corruption. There is need to break the silence. We should start reporting corruption. Create an

environment where we hold our leadership accountable.

 

Q: What do you make of the popular perception that corruption is rising?

A

: The ACB is yet to conduct a corruption and governance survey which informs the bureau about the extent of corruption in the country. However, according to the perception of people in Malawi, according to Transparency International, corruption is worsening. It, therefore, challenges all sectors, including the media, to actively get involved in the fight against corruption. All public service providers must offer high quality services to members of the public without demanding any payment from their clients. If the payment is supposed to be paid for, they should offer it without demanding extra payment from the members of the public.

 

Q: How do you feel about perceptions that ACB is selective in prosecuting people suspected of corrupt practices following the slowdown in cases involving former minister George Chaponda and Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani  Nankhumwa?

A

: The bureau is still working on the case of Honourable George Chaponda and Honourable Nankhumwa. These matters have not been concluded. Therefore, it is not true to conclude that the bureau is selective in prosecuting cases using cases which have not been concluded. In the case involving Chaponda, various documents and electronic gadgets were seized. Specialised skills and equipment were required to analyse them. This, therefore, requires time to be completed. Malawians should bear with the bureau as it is working on the matter professionally to ensure that it comes to a logical conclusion. The bureau would not do justice to the suspects and Malawians if it were to rush through the processes just to make people happy that it has concluded the matter.

 

Q: How is ACB cooperating with other agencies in fighting against corruption?

A

: The bureau does not work in isolation. It works with various institutions, stakeholders and members of the public in the fight against corruption at different levels. For example, during investigations, ACB requires the cooperation of individuals and organisations which have relevant information about the matter being investigated. When the investigation is concluded, it works with the Director of Public Prosecutions [DPP] to give consent to the bureau to prosecute the case. When prosecution commences,  the bureau works with the Judiciary, the defence lawyers and witnesses for the prosecution to be effective and successful.

 

Q

: President Peter Mutharika called for a personal crusade against corruption. How is ACB contributing to the crusade?

A

: ACB is already working on its mandate in the fight against corruption. It will continue delivering on its mandate independently, effectively and efficiently. However, we are calling upon all sectors in the country to joins it if the efforts to deal with the vice are to bear fruits.

 

Q

: How will the conference help the nation?

A

: The conference achieved its purpose. Delegates discussed and recommended the way forward in the fight against corruption in the country. What remains is that the recommendations are taken further so that the areas that need to be reviewed are reviewed to improve the way we work to tackle corruption. n

 

Share This Post