Some of the country’s major donors have asked government to immediately fill the vacant offices of the Ombudsman, Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) director general and Auditor General (AG).
A joint statement issued yesterday by the European Union (EU), Germany, United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA), Norway and Ireland says the appointments will ensure the respective institutions effectively discharge their duties.
Reads the statement in part: “We support the development of a public beneficial ownership register which will constitute a major next step in holding criminals to account.
“We encourage the timely appointment of dynamic candidates for director general of the Financial Intelligence Authority, Auditor General and now the Ombudsman.”
The office of the Ombudsman has fallen vacant following the appointment and subsequent confirmation of Martha Chizuma as Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general while the office of the AG has been vacant for over two years.
The AG’s office fell vacant in June 2018 following the expiry of Stephenson Kamphasa’s contract. Former president Peter Mutharika picked Harold Mwala to replace him, but his name was withdrawn following a public outcry that the recruitment process was flawed.
On the other hand, the position of FIA director general also fell vacant in 2019 following the expiry of Atuweni Juwayeyi-Agbermodji’s contract.
While applauding government for increasing resources to law enforcement agencies in recent budgets, the donors have stressed that they look forward to a continued partnership with the Malawi Government in tackling serious and organised crime.
In the statement, the donors also said government’s new Law Enforcement Agency Coordination Strategy is a reassuring framework for prioritising asset recovery and prosecuting financial crimes.
Further, the statement also reiterates the donors’ commitment to continued engagement with the ACB and other law enforcement agencies to address corruption.
The donors have also hailed the Tonse administration for appointing Chizuma as ACB director general.
In an interview yesterday, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, who is the official government spokesperson, said while government appreciates support from cooperating partners, the fight against corruption and theft is self-supervising.
He said government knows what the problem has been all along; hence, they are knowledgeable on how to fix it.
Said Kazako: “Our partners will find it easy to join us through any assistance because the equation for the fight against corruption has been recalibrated to allow tangible progress. So, any condition given to us is like singing to a choir.”
In an interview with our sister paper Weekend Nation two weeks ago, Treasury spokesperson Williams Banda said the AG’s position will be re-advertised.
The FIA, under Juwayeyi-Agbermodji, took a leading role in investigations into the police food rations deal involving a businessperson of Asian origin who later deposited K145 million in a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) bank account whose sole signatory was Mutharika.
On the other hand, the Ombudsman’s office under Chizuma has recently been instrumental in conducting investigations into various State institutions over maladministration, among others, while the AG’s office under Kamphasa played a critical role in exposing Cashgate.