Hon. Folks, on Thursday this week Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemorating the 2021 International Anti-Corruption Day.
The United Nations set up the day in 2003 for governments to reflect on the damage corruption causes on governance systems, economies and societies so they can recommit to prevent and uproot all forms of the vice.
Firstly, let me congratulate the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma on her recognition as one of the (only) two Africans to be on the second cohort of the 2021 United States (US) list of anti-corruption champions announced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday.
Chizuma demonstrated leadership, courage and impact in preventing, exposing and fighting corruption and that is why she qualified for the accolade, according to Blinken. I also extend my kudos to Mozambique’s behavioural change activist Denise Namburete, who is the other African, and 10 other individuals from Europe, Middle East, Central and South America and Central and South-East Asia.
Fighting corruption is no simple task, and many people hardly realise that succeeding in this war requires firmness, creativity and courage just like Chizuma.
This is what Chizuma has demonstrated so far in her resolve to expose and fight corruption and it is everyone’s hope that this will continue for the betterment of the country. I dare say her achievement must be viewed by the Tonse Alliance administration as a test by the US on Capital Hill’s commitment to make corruption feared in the country.
So back to Thursday’s commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day, the event was held at the Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu and guest of honour Vice-President Saulos Chilima bemoaned the malpractice, saying it fuels poverty, exacerbates inequalities, drains scarce public resources, denies the citizenry access to public services, undermines democracy and illegitimates institutions and the rule of law.
Echoing President Lazarus Chakwera’s remarks when he presided over last year’s commemoration at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre, Chilima urged ACB and other law enforcement agencies to deal with all perpetrators of corruption and fraud in Malawi without fear or favour.
The Veep also reiterated Chakwera’s independence guarantees on ACB, saying the body has the President’s and government’s full support on the fight against corruption.
Now, honourable forks, if Chakwera and Chilima have publicly given ACB its independence, plus sharper teeth to bite, where are some folks in government deriving their authority to start intimidating ACB officials to drop certain investigations on the pretext that they would compromise national security?
Honourable folks, Chakwera and Chilima have made it clear on numerous occasions that there will be no political interference on the graft-buster under their watch. These are the two faces that appeared on the ballot paper on June 23 2020, but it seems we have some powerful characters within the State machinery who are bent on making the duo’s job difficult in the eyes of Malawians.
Do these people even remember that we have a leader who once put his neck on the line, promising Malawians that he will not shield anyone from arrest and prosecution, including his Cabinet ministers and family members?
The fact is that poverty remains a big problem in the country and this is what motivates many citizens to engage in under-hand practices although they know that it is illegal.
And talking about the government, it is unfortunate that corruption has grown in the public service over the years and it has become the most dominant source of poverty among citizens as some politicians (even in this government) continue colluding with public servants, private citizens and businesspersons to defraud government of huge sums of money meant for poverty alleviation and development projects.
This problem has proved extremely difficult to solve previously because swindlers usually connive with top officials closer to the leadership and they shield each other.
Now, all eyes are fixed on the Tonse Alliance—on how they will deal with this puzzle ahead of the next election in 2025.
This, hon. Folks, is why we are of the same mind with the President on waging a relentless war on corruption through a new court, hiring of more judges and increased funding to ACB.
This enterprise will for sure redeem millions of Malawians from the jaws of poverty.