1 January 2018

Malawi in Corruption Crisis As Analysts Hits At Bankruptcy of Leadership

As Malawi starts New Year, there has been condemnation of the President Peter Mutharika administration over the nation's moral decay occasioned by high levels of corruption, according to published interviews.

Malawian legal commentator based at South Africa's University of Cape Town, Professor Danwood Chirwa, said Malawian corruption is "so deeply embedded that it requires an entirely new ethical leadership that will prioritise probity and integrity, competence and equal opportunity."

Unfortunately, Chirwa notes that "there is no prospect of such leadership at the moment."

He says corruption accounts for persistent situation of underdevelopment, poor infrastructure, economic stagnation, poor service delivery and deepening poverty.

Commentators have also accused the Mutharika administration's reluctance to conclude the K577 billion alleged Cashgate which was reduced to K236 billion because it wants to shield suspects in the corridors of power.

CCAP Livingstonia Synod Church and Society executive director Moses Mkandawire said the fight against corruption under Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration is "mere rhetoric."

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo has also observed that the cases of abuse of funds are escalating.

"Unfortunately, there is a blind eye from leadership on issues of corruption; it was observed that the president kept on defending the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda, when there was clear evidence of abuse of office and corruption which had happened within the ministry," he said.

Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence said there is lack of leadership commitment to fight against corruption, adding, what is failing the fight against corruption is lack of political will, especially by the President.

He said: "If we have impunity and arrogance coming from the highest office desisting to fight corruption, nothing in this country will move. If we are to stamp out corruption, we need real commitment from the President to walk the talk by not shielding people close to him.

"What has killed this country is that corruption is entrenched within party political systems, as such, whenever a political party comes into power, they think it is their 'turn to eat'. As a result, there is a lot of political interference in most of the parastatal institutions from so-called ruling party loyalists who become more powerful than the President himself."

Trapence emphasised the need to revisit provisions that deal with the appointment and confirmation of heads of parastatals, including having an independent appointing body for the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) that has no political affiliations so that corruption can be contained.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) president John Suzi-Banda said Malawi is losing the fight against corruption, adding, "there is bankruptcy of leadership in the fight against corruption, the efforts are half-hearted and lukewarm.

"The institutions that are mandated to fight corruption have systematically been weakened and the officers charged with these functions are highly compromised. I think every well-meaning Malawian knows this. Those that can dispute this either don't know what's happening in their own country or are benefiting from these criminal activities," he said.

Chancellor College-based political and social analyst Ernest Thindwa said Malawians expected government to decisively deal with corruption, "but to the disappointment of many, those close to the ruling clique are being spared from prosecution."

But President Mutharika said he is aware that his government is accused of being the most corrupt in Malawi's history and that it is selective in dealing with Cashgate cases.

Mutharika challenged the public to submit names of ministers or anybody in my government involved in corruption, and he will make sure that he deal with those people.

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