There is renewed hope in the corridors of power now that the battle against corruption could be won, if all Malawians come together to fight the vice. This is thanks to president Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera’s determination to eradicate this cancer once and for all.
There is no doubt in President Chakwera’s mind, to suggest that this is an insurmountable feat for the determined citizenry. But President Chakwera is under no illusion in his belief that the battle can be won singlehandedly.
He knows that the fight against the vice is as complex, this is why time and again he has been blowing a clarion call for all Malawians to join him in rooting out graft. These marks of a leader who believes in shared responsibilities when confronting a common problem.
He knows that this is not the Martha Chizuma fight alone, he knows that this is not Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda fight alone, he knows this is not the fight of Titus Mvalos alone and he knows that that the fight is for every Malawian
The country has struggled to curb corruption for years and money allocated in the budget do not meet the intended purpose annually because of corruption. To show that corruption has always been there Fahad Assan who was the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) during the early years of Bakili Muluzi was on record saying that government loses 30 percent of its budget through fraud and corruption.
Echoing Assani’s sentiments was Rezine Mzikamanda in his time as the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Speaking at the launch of the Corruption and Fraud Reduction Policy on 13 July 2013, Mzikamanda also said because of fraud and corruption is high offices, 30 percent of the national budget, in most African countries including Malawi, does not meet the intended need.
“Research has shown that most African countries including Malawi lose 30 percent of their budget money to corruption,” he said.
With that in mind we can speculate that an estimated amount of K852 billion could be lost in the current budget currently pegged at K2.84 trillion. This is how hurtful corruption has been to the development of this country.
Sadly, corruption worsened during the DPP administration because its leadership and its cronies were at the center of looting from government coffers. Understandably, the DPP looked away when anyone connected to power partook in corruption. The Anti-Corruption Bureau was reduced into a weapon of silencing its critics.
Under Chakwera, those days of political retribution and selective justice are long gone.
Under his watch, there is no sacred cows. In the past two years we have seen three cabinet ministers and a senior advisor being fired for allegedly being involved in some fraud and corruption related offences. In the last two years we have seen three cabinet ministers being dismissed from the cabinet after being charged with corruption related cases.
Before President Chakwera assumed power, the Anti-Corruption Bureau could not discharge its duties effectively due to the funding constraints. But there has been a remarkable turn around in this respect. For the first time since the ACB was established over twenty years ago, the bureau has been allocated K6.3 billion in the current budget, an upwards adjustment from K3.8 billion in the last budget.
The ACB requires staff capacity of 287 to effectively discharge its duties. When President Chakwera assumed power the ACB had 150 employees, but the number has increased to 208.
Recently the Minister of Justice announced that his ministry is planning to table a Bill in parliament that will see the establishment of the special court called the Corruption and Financial Crime Court. The establishment of the court seeks to expedite corruption and financial related cases which takes too long to conclude because the courts are overwhelmed with other cases.
Speaking when he faced the media at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on his return from World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland and African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea President, Chakwera announced that government will host the National Wide Campaign on eradicating corruption. President Chakwera said he already sourced funds for this national dialogue on corruption.
“More broadly, today am announcing a new national wide campaign for driving out corruption out of government agencies which will be launched in July this year at the national ant-corruption conference which I will host.
“The campaign will pool together different stakeholders in the country to an honest conversation on corruption. The national wide campaign against corruption is necessary, because going by recent findings that many of you feel that corruption is getting worse our campaign to fight it also needs to be intensified,” said the President.
However, Chakwera emphasized that for that to happen the campaign must involve all the stakeholders including the civil service, civil society organization, the media, the faith organization, the private sector, traditional leaders and the international partners.
“Most importantly it needs the involvement of the citizens” added President Chakwera.
As the President has always said, the country needs an honest discussion about corruption and this all-inclusive platform will provide an open opportunity for people from different backgrounds to reflect on what can be done collectively to curb this vice.
President Chakwera understands that corruption can only be won if everyone is involved. He also acknowledges that the fight against corruption needs to be fought from all fronts using different tactics. President Chakwera has been in office for two years but so far he has done more in the fight against graft than any of his predecessors