Talking Blues: Corruption is our biggest enemy and is not welcome here

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Chizuma (L) and Chakwera at the anti-corruption conference last week

Today, I will cut directly to the chase. Parliament is in session. Our Members of Parliament are busy “talking”. Not just talking but passing laws that will serve different purposes.

This week, we also held a two-day National Anti-Corruption Conference.

The purpose of this National Anti-Corruption Conference, as per President Lazarus Chakwera, “was to ensure that we form our battle lines and synchronise our weapons against the dark forces we face”. This, as far as the President is concerned, was achieved.

The take-home message adopted as the slogan of an anti-corruption campaign launched and set to run for twenty weeks is the title of our discourse today id est:

”CORRUPTION IS OUR BIGGEST ENEMY AND IS NOT WELCOME HERE!”

So, before we proceed, esteemed readers, may I request you actively participate in this noble campaign?

Start by telling the person next to you, or if you are alone, text or send a WhatsApp message to any random person in your contact list with those ten powerful words.

If they don’t follow the news or are among Malawians who stopped listening to the President’s addresses because the rhetoric is mere rhetoric, they will wonder if all is well with your medulla oblongata.

But, let’s do it anyway because their wonderment is the worst thing that can happen, but the result will be worthwhile. You will have joined the battalion representing what this column has always stood for.

Let me elaborate. That the most recurrent theme here is corruption is no accident. The goal is that by talking about corruption as often as possible, we will motivate anti-corruption soldiers while discomfiting corrupt low-lives.

Granted, writing alone won’t stop unrepentant low-lives from corruption. But it helps anti-corruption warriors, like our Martha Chizuma, to know they are not alone and that their effort is appreciated.

This is why although I know slogans without action are absolutely useless, your participation in the manner I have asked of you will make an impact.

You will be challenging and changing mindsets from the defeatist ‘corruption can never end’ to an action-mongering ‘corruption is not inevitable’ attitude.

Whether we need conferences or campaigns is a subject for another day. Let me pause to allow you to say or despatch the message as per my humble request.

(Pause – making a cup of tea – back soon)

Come to think of it, let’s sort this question (whether conferences or campaigns are the panaceas) out today. After all, didn’t the poet and dramatist Edward Young warn us that procrastination is the thief of time?

Look, while the conference was happening, Parliament continued its business of “talking” to pass bills (action), which, when assented to, will become laws of the land.

Without a single slogan, the August House,

~ CONCERNED that some recommendations from the Law Commission’s Report of 2002 on the working of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) had not been implemented,

~ REPEALED Section 42 of the CPA;

and hence emancipated the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) from the need to seek “consent” before prosecuting these many thieving low-lives.

In my opinion, this shows that to fight corruption, the senior government officials who are the most corrupt or the biggest enablers do NOT need sham conferences!

All they need to do is to ACT. Parliament, created to talk by design, has taken a vital action. As a result, the ACB will soon have no excuses regarding political interference.

Hence my questions:

• Does the President need a conference to ACT?
• Can’t the Minister of Justice, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, ACB Czarina, and all law enforcement agencies deliver us from the capture of UK-based scoundrels without ‘roadshows’ if so they wished?

What and who is stopping them? I can answer this one: it’s corruption! Nothing else.

How and why?

A recent report on why globally, many anti-corruption agencies fail to realise their mission identifies “sabotage by politicians” as the biggest culprit.

In our case, how long has it taken us to repeal Section 42 when the recommendation from the Law Commission was made in 2002 is a perfect example of sabotage. The fact that this was a private member and not a government bill shows who cares and doesn’t care, i.e. we now know the saboteurs.

Twenty years to repeal a bottleneck identified as problematic by some of our best brains! And the repeal is championed by backbenchers!

And you want to tell me that what we needed was a “conference”? Nonsense.

What we need is corruption-fighting ACTION from government officials in their day-to-day work.

I hear you asking, “Mapwiya Muulupale, please guide them; what should they be doing?”

First step: they should realise and accept that the ACB was established for a reason. Therefore, whether the President, the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General (AG), or the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) like it, ACB should be allowed to lead in corruption-related incidences.

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Look at it this way, if their fingers are in the corruption-busting pot, and we happen to lose the fight, is it going to be fair to blame the ACB? When literally every jack and jill had their noses deep in the pot?

No ways.

Conversely, now that Section 42 is gone (as soon as President Chakwera assents), I – who has been and is still the ACB’s most prominent supporter – will no longer tolerate excuses.

Parliament’s severing Section 42 umbilical cord to politicians means that a rogue president, via an ill-advised Minister of Justice, a supercilious AG and a conflicted DPP can no longer hold the ACB to ransom if the ACB performs and refuses to be held to ransom.

Going forward, Malawians expect the ACB to:

a) clear its investigative backlog,
b) make new/further arrests in all arms of government,
c) prosecute unimpeded,
d) secure convictions, and
e) hand the jail keys over to me for dumping in the deepest part of Shire River.

These are the only five things we ask of the ACB. We have talked and conferred enough; it’s now action and more action.

Let me put it like this:

“Dear Madame ACB DG,

Our patience is wearing thin. We want no more excuses. Please give us results because corruption is our biggest enemy; honestly, it should not be welcome here. By the way, do not restrict yourself to timeframes.

Corruption continued even after the NCA’s cut-off point. Investigate capital assets received and significant inward bank transfers after the Brits cut-off date. And trust me, you will net truckloads. Akuba anatansa (it was a free for all).

……impatiently waiting…

At your service

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