Henry Kachaje, a Malawian economist, yesterday suggested that operations of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) be closed down in the country because they are no longer relevant.
Making a presentation on governance at the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) annual general meeting in Blantyre, Kachaje said over the past two years, operational independence of ACB has considerably been compromised that the bureau’s existence has become immaterial.
In his presentation titled Corruption: Impact on Political and Socioeconomic Landscape in Malawi, Kachaje said it would be better to close ACB and channel the resources to provision of other essential services.
He observed that many people’s views indicate the public was fast losing confidence in the affairs of the bureau and its fight against corruption is increasingly becoming questionable.
Said Kachaje: “We have an ACB in name and not in action. It is just as good as closing and using the money to, perhaps, buy maize or something essential.
“Its drive is not as it was before and the outcry is that such an institution which is benefiting public resources must be seen to deliver and not just being a symbolic institution in the fight against corruption.”
Kachaje said the rate at which the public was losing hope in ACB was worrying because evidence shows that the levels of corruption keep on rising “which means there is definitely something we need to review in terms of governances and leadership on the political level”.
He said: “In general, as a country, we are not doing good either because in 2006 over 75 percent of people were optimistic that our fight against corruption was bearing fruits but the latest survey done in 2013 indicate that less than 30 percent have trust in the country’s fight against corruption.”
However, re-elected PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota said his committee has always advocated for the independence of ACB in order to professionally execute its duties as a corruption watchdog.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) has on a number of times also queried the operational independence of ACB particularly in effecting some arrests of officials with links to power.
In June this year, MLS president John Suzi Banda told The Nation that ACB’s decisions as to whom to investigate and prosecute were no longer being guided by the cogency of the available evidence but some other extraneous matters that have no bearing on the bureau’s decision.
Mid this year, a survey by our sister newspaper Nation on Sunday established that a majority of Malawians have no confidence in ACB. n