Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma says despite allegations that public officers receive bribes to enable the illegal charcoal trade, the bureau has not received any complaint to investigate the issue.
Chizuma said this after meeting with Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus, Malawi Police Service and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust on Monday in Lilongwe.
She added that the bureau is more than ready to investigate such cases whenever they have been brought on their table.
Chizuma noted that wildlife and forest crime have the hallmarks of any other organised criminal activity – money laundering, violence, and corruption as such persons responsible for corrupting public officers will be pursued vigorously and the proceeds of their crimes will be confiscated.
“Public officers involved in this illicit trade will not be spared either. Combatting corruption in these sectors is a key priority during my tenure. We cannot be bystanders to the destruction of our nation’s natural heritage, upon which we rely for our prosperity and our very survival. We all have a moral duty to do what we can in whatever walk of life we find ourselves in,” she said.
She then asked the government to allocate the bureau with funds so that the bureau can hire more investigators.
On his part, Co-Chairperson of Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus and Natural Resources Energy and Mining Werani Chilenga said corruption is a serious crime and those individuals who don’t resist the temptation of ‘dirty money’ ultimately rob from everyone.
Chilenga added that there is a need to stamp out corruption throughout the chain, from the police officers who wave through the charcoal trucks through the roadblocks and the shipping agents who clear the container of ivory through to the court clerks who alters paperwork.
Deputy Inspector General for National Police Headquarters Merlyne Yolamu said the fight against charcoal trade should be conducted holistically and the main target should be the source and where the charcoal is being taken to because the process involves a lot of people.
Yolamu explained that because of the seriousness of the problem they deployed some officers that are directly looking into the issue of road blocks.