Civil society organisations (CSOs) have reported Malawi’s corruption, including President Peter Mutharika’s alleged involvement in the vice, to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR).
The CSOs—Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep)—submitted their report to the 63rd Ordinary Session of ACHPR yesterday in Banjul, The Gambia.
Their submission also alleges human rights abuse, poor governance and lack of seriousness in implementing gender-related laws in the country.
The Malawi Government, through Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs chief State advocate Pacharo Kayira, who is also attending the session, said it has taken note of the issues.
The CSOs have since asked the Commission to continue encouraging the Malawi Government to commit to implementing measures aimed at safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms by walking the talk through implementation.
In a presentation made available to The Nation, CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo said the fight against corruption has become a dangerous scheme to the extent that CSO leaders championing the cause have received death threats.
He said: “Corruption and abuse of public resources in Malawi has reached historical and worrisome levels in our beloved country. Everyday our media is greeted with sad reports of serious and organised corruption involving senior government officials.
“The recent reports from Malawi Anti-corruption Bureau [ACB] implicating the President [Mutharika] is even more disturbing. I would like to bring to your attention that corruption is a human rights issue and it is so destructive in that it erodes government’s capabilities to implement Human and People’s Rights, especially economic social and cultural rights.”
On a positive note, Mtambo applauded government for passing a number of progressive laws and policies, including gender and child related laws, the Disability Act, the Trafficking in Persons’ Act, the Marriage, Family Relations and Wills Act, the Access to Information Act and the National Human Rights Action Plan.
He urged Lilongwe to ensure that these laws, policies and institutions established are operational and properly funded.
Mtambo also asked the Commission to urge the Malawi Government to give serious attention to reforming the ACB so that it becomes independent, and urgently bring to book all those implicated in corruption.
Kayira said government has noted the concerns.
He said: “The issues raised by CHRR are noted. They are actually not new. They have already been raised domestically in various platforms. They will be fully discussed during the next session of our National Task Force on the African Charter.”
Kayira said the next session will be held early next year.
During a recent debate organised by the Malawi Law Society in Mzuzu, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said a revised Corrupt Practices Act (CPA), which has more stringent amendments on appointments of ACB director general, may be taken to Parliament this November.
In the new Act, he said there is a proposal for a committee which will be set up by someone from the Judiciary, Executive, Legislature, CSOs, faith-based organisations, the media, private sector and traditional leaders.
Last week, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) joined forces with three CSOs, forming a consortium called United Against Corruption (UAC) that will collectively handle and tackle serious and organised corruption in the country.
Mutharika recently made headlines when a leaked ACB investigation report said he was a sole signatory to a governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) bank account at Standard Bank where Malawi Police Service food rations supplier, Zameer Karim of Pioneer Investments, deposited K145 million. The ACB, however, cleared him of corruption.
Two weeks ago, our sister newspaper Weekend Nation exposed that Karim also bought five vehicles whose title holder is Mutharika, according to Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services records.