7 February 2014

Malawi: Silence Remains Biggest Challenge in Corruption Fight

Photo: Katie C. Lin/IPS
Malawi’s President Joyce Banda.

Lilongwe — The continued culture of silence which has seen citizens of Malawi failing to report corruption while it is happening under their noses is one of the serious challenges that is undermining the fight against corruption in the country.

Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Rizine Mzikamanda SC, JA, said according to primary indications from a report on a governance and corruption survey which the ACB commissioned in 2013, it has shown that silence remains one of the serious challenges in the fight against corruption.

Mzikamanda was speaking in Lilongwe at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) on Wednesday during the opening ceremony of this year's commemoration for the National Anti-Corruption day in the country which also graced by the State President Dr. Joyce Banda.

"The 2006 Governance and Corruption Baseline Survey established that the vast majority of those who observed corrupt acts did not report those acts. Ordinary citizens were especially concerned with potential harassment, and cited this reason most often to explain why they did not report the corruption.

"A report on a 2013 Governance and Corruption Survey commissioned by the Anti-Corruption Bureau towards the end of the year is to come out soon. There are indications that silence remains one of serious challenges in the fight against corruption," said the ACB Director General.

He cited the example of the extensive looting of government resources at Capital Hill as chief among incidents where corruption has been happening in full awareness of some individuals but chose to be silent about it.

"Stories are told that some knew about the extensive looting of Government resources at Capital Hill as it took place, but chose to remain silent about it for various reasons, until the discoveries in the last few months," he said.

Mzikamanda also lauded the President for what he termed as a demonstration of huge commitment in the fight against corruption in the country as shown by her tireless efforts to root out the vice.

"On occasions without number you have said that you are determined to fight corruption regardless of the cost to yourself. Serious government efforts in the fight against corruption are there for all to see, appreciate and participate in," said the ACB Chief.

He also called on the whole nation to join in the fight against corruption and never to condone or accept corruption as a norm in our society.

"The evil and dangerous effects of corruption are there for all to see. We know that corruption is a major constraint to the development of our country and undermines good governance. And it has a severe debilitating effect on the economic, social and political environment. It hampers economic growth, burdens the rural poor disproportionately while undermining the effectiveness of investment and aid," he noted.

This year unlike in the past the commemoration was done in a form of a conference with a deliberate intention of engaging the public to contribute through their views n how best the culture of silence can be broken to aid the war against corruption.

"We at the Bureau decided that it is time to engage the public in some serious, structured and constructive dialogue so that we can find ways of breaking the silence and stopping corruption. Hence, the National Anti-Corruption Day Conference," he said.

Some of the major objectives of the conference were to pronounce the crippling effects of corruption on social services and infrastructure projects delivery in Malawi and to secure a common understanding from Malawians that corruption negatively affects service delivery and implementation of infrastructural projects and negatively affects the people.

And also the conference aimed at soliciting views from the public on what Malawi, as a nation, should do to curb corruption and the role the public can play in the fight against corrupt practices.

During the conference there were presentations of papers, debate and discussions on provision of services such as health, education, water, electricity, construction and the justice system in Malawi.

This year the National Anti-Corruption Day was celebrated under the theme, Break the silence: Stop corruption.

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