Mzuzu-based civil society organisation, Youth and Society (YAS) has told the government to shelve off the amended Corruption Bill, saying it should not be brought in parliament because it still gives more powers to the president to appoint the director of graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Executive director of Youth and Society Charles Kajoloweka said the amended bill is unacceptable in a modern and democratic Malawi, accusing the government of trying to take control of the ACB through the amended bill.
"What we are saying is that the minister of Justice should not be involved in the appointment of the panel which will be mandated to interview prospective candidates for the post of director of ACB.
"This is because the minister can appoint a highly politically charged panel which will be there to appease the ruling elite. We are not comfortable with this," said Kajoloweka.
Instead, Kajoloweka said, the law should provide that an independent body should be mandated to constitute the committee that will select abdinterview the prospective ACB director.
"At present, there is no work done, we are back to square one in terms of this amendment," he said.
Main opposition, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) also tore apart the Corrupt Practices Bill, saying it still gives powers to the president to appoint the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau among others.
MCP spokesperson on Legal Affairs in parliament Maxwell Thyoleraaccused the government has just devised a new way for the president to appoint the director.
The bill says that when a vacancy occurs for the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the minister of Justice shall constitute an appointing panel which shall appoint three names to be presented to the president who will in turn appoint one person as director.
However, the bill also says the president shall have the powers to veto all the three names.
The appointing panel, according to the bill, shall comprise of people from the public sector, the private sector, the faith community and the media, those that are in ACB strategy.
However, Thyolera said the president should not have powers to reject all the three names, saying he could do it to manipulate the system so that a person he wants be appointed.
Thyolera also said the bill should explicitly say which professional bodies from the public sector, the private sector, the faith community and the media should be mandated to interview the future director, saying the president can appoint his loyalists for the exercise so that they appoint a person the president wants.
However, minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu said the new bill takes away the powers from the president of appointing the director of ACB.
He said his office would now be mandated to advertise for the post in newspapers and the appointing panel would select three successful candidates before the president appoints one.
"The appointed person would still be subjected to scrutiny by the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament," he said.
Both SaulosChilima of the UTM party and Lazarus Chakwera of the MCP have openly said once voted into power in May 2019, they would ensure that they have nothing to do with the appointment of the director of ACB, saying they would leave it to parliament or any other independent body.
A cross section of Malawians feel the current ACB is shielding corrupt officials in the current Democratic Progressive Party led government including president Peter Mutharika who hit headlines recently for receiving a generous donation of K145 million and five vehicles worth K85 million from unscrupulous Indian businessman Zameer Karim.
State House denies any wrong in the dnations, saying Mutharika did not benefit personally.