The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma says while the bureau plays a greater role in leading the fight against corruption, President Lazarus Chakwera has to set the right tone from the top.
In her speech at the end of the two-day National Anti-Corruption Conference in Blantyre yesterday, Chizuma said the ACB also needs correct and justifiable policy direction from the Ministry of Justice as well as coordination from other State institutions.
She said: “The bureau needs support and proper cooperation with its sister institutions like police, Financial Intelligence Authority [FIA], Directorate of Public Prosecutions [DPP] and others.
“The bureau needs complementary efforts from all National Anti-Corruption Strategy [Nacs] 12 pillars which include the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.”
Chizuma’s plea comes at a time when there are perceptions of poor coordination between her office and that of the DPP.
But while stressing that the ACB needs all the moral support and understanding, she said the bureau also needs all constructive criticism, counsel and guidance from technical experts on anti-corruption.
Chizuma said the ACB needs all criticism it gets from those whose character and reputation make a clear sign that the fight being effective.
However, the ACB director said the bureau will not accept to be coerced to ignore its mandate to clear incidents of corruption just because tackling them feels uncomfortable for others and that it will not be pressured to be used as a tool for political objectives.
“The reason the bureau and the whole country should not give in to this is because corruption is evil and has had devastating effects on this country for decades. We cannot and we should not as a country let evil win,” she said.
Chizuma further stressed that corruption has deprived Malawi of public funds contributed by the poorest people public hospitals, medicines, schools, roads and social amenities.
In his speech, Chakwera hailed Chizuma for taking a bold stand against corruption and her passion to clear the civil service of any corrupt public officials.
But he warned all corrupt people that the law will take its course when they are caught.
The President said he will not relent in the fight against the vice for the goodwill of Malawians.
He said: “My message to those who are still practising corruption or plotting to do so is that God is against you, Malawi is against you and I am against you. When we find you, the law will deal with you.”
The President said people must, within the 20-week anti-corruption campaign he launched yesterday, develop an attitude that says corruption is Malawi’s biggest enemy and is not welcome in the country.
He said if people develop such an attitude, State agencies that are tasked to fight corruption will diligently work without any fear.
Under the anti-corruption campaign, stakeholders making up the pillars of the Nacs including the citizenry in general will be required to intensify anti-corruption messages through resources at their disposal, among others.
Prior to the President’s address, representatives of the Nacs’ pillars, that include the media, civil society, public service, judiciary, faith based organisations, private sector, and local government signed commitments on what they will do in the next 20 weeks spearheading the fight against corruption.
The commitments were made after members of the Nacs’ pillars held breakaway sessions during the two-day event.
The conference was held under the theme ‘Resetting the Nation’s Moral Tone’.