1.0 Situational Analysis
In comparison to the previous Mutharika regime, corruption has substantially soared during the incumbent Chakwera’s reign. To put it into perspective, the corruption index in Malawi was ranked at 31 when Prof. Peter Mutharika was unceremoniously booted out of power in 2020. Just two years later, Chakwera’s regime embarrassingly registered a corruption index of 35. Currently, corruption is rampant in all sectors like never before.
2.0 Why Chakwera’s Regime Is So Corrupt?
a) Lack of Political Will
The leadership of this country has not been aggressive enough in cracking down on corruption. For instance, Tanzania registered a decline in corruption incidents due to the strong leadership and commitment of former President John Magufuli to eradicate this vice. The current President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, is continuing Magufuli’s ideologies. In Malawi, the laissez-faire approach practiced by President Chakwera has worsened corruption. It takes ages for President Chakwera to act on corruption allegations perpetrated by his appointees. Furthermore, how can corruption decline when President Chakwera himself proudly pardons corruption convicts like Uladi Mussa? What message is he sending to potential culprits and convicts of corruption?
b) Mapwevupwevu Syndrome
It is now an established fact that the Tonse Alliance camp condemned the former regime for practicing corruption because they themselves wanted to be involved in the same vice. Having been famished in the wilderness on the opposition bench for close to three decades, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and other Tonse Alliance sycophants have resorted to looting and defrauding government coffers as if it’s nobody’s business. Currently, nepotism is high, as exemplified by the hiring of President Chakwera’s daughter in the UK embassy. Furthermore, a litany of Tonse Alliance gurus, including the Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima, Kezzie Msukwa, Newton Kambala, Enock Chihana, and George Kainja, are facing corruption charges. Clearly, the Tonse Alliance administration has no practical strategy to stamp out corruption.
c) Corruption as an Organized Crime
With no political will and no strategy to crack down on corruption, almost all private and public sectors have successfully established networks to shield each other from being prosecuted. For instance, the Judiciary issued a court order to protect Kezzie Msukwa, a former cabinet minister and corruption suspect, from being investigated and prosecuted. Furthermore, the former Director of Public Prosecution had the audacity to withhold consent to prosecute Zuneth Sattar, another corruption suspect.
3.0 The Multisectoral Approach to Fighting Corruption
The President and the Executive
Malawians expect President Chakwera and his cabinet to show leadership in combating corruption. It is unfortunate that President Chakwera takes the lead in practicing nepotism while some of his appointees are involved in looting government resources.
The National Assembly
It has the mandate to enact appropriate laws that can assist in cracking down on corruption. Unfortunately, the confirmation of Martha Chizuma as the Director General of ACB opened a can of worms, as we saw the parliamentary Public Appointments Committee (PAC) being forced to rescind its own decision. This was the genesis of corruption, and Malawi will continue to reap the aftermath.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)
It is mandated to investigate corrupt practices and prosecute suspects, sensitize the public to the evils of corruption, and carry out corruption prevention activities in public and private organizations. Unfortunately, the toothless ACB is caught up in a mesh of delaying the prosecution of corruption cases.
The Office of the Ombudsman
It investigates any suspected practice of maladministration and makes its findings known to the public. Unfortunately, this office is underrated by the Judiciary, as it is seen as encroaching on its jurisdiction. No wonder Henry Kachaje is still the Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi Energy Regulatory Agency (MERA), despite the fact that the Office of the Ombudsman found him unqualified for the position. In fact, Mr. Kachaje is holding his position at the mercy of the court for over two years now.
The National Audit Office (NAO)
It has the mandate to report on the public accounts and resource utilization of public authorities and bodies. However, NAO’s failure to audit financial accounts in a timely manner seriously compromises financial accountability and the effective prevention of malpractices. Furthermore, cases of misuse and abuse of public funds have been reported over the years, but no action has been taken against some perpetrators. In many instances, audit reports have not been given sufficient attention by appropriate government authorities. Worse still, issues raised in audit reports against politicians tend to be ignored as well.
As the last hope of the common man and custodian of the law, the judiciary plays an important role in the fight against corruption. Regrettably, judicial corruption has devalued and derailed society’s fundamental mechanism for the impartial administration of justice. How can a judge who is suspected of corruption adjudicate on cases involving the same vice? No wonder we see absurd court orders and injunctions restraining the ACB from investigating corruption suspects.
The Mass Media
The media can play a great role in combating corruption by acting as a watchdog, civic educating the public, and publicizing acts of corruption, thereby enhancing transparency and accountability. This can be effectively done through daily, weekly, and biweekly newspapers, radio stations, television stations, seminars, workshops, and panel discussions.
It can be concluded that combating corruption requires a multisectoral approach since corruption takes place at all levels of government and society. By engaging multiple sectors, key players can leverage knowledge, expertise, reach, and resources, benefiting from their combined and varied strengths as they work toward the shared goal of cracking down on corruption in Malawi.
Therefore, it is proposed that the Director General of the ACB must take a leading role in engaging leaders from all sectors through seminars, panel discussions, awareness campaigns, and joint corruption investigations to chart the way forward in combating corruption.
In addition to the above, the following are some of the key measures that can be taken to combat corruption in Malawi:
- Strengthening the capacity of the ACB to investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
- Enacting and enforcing laws that deter corruption.
- Promoting transparency and accountability in government.
- Raising public awareness about the evils of corruption.
- Creating a culture of zero tolerance for corruption.
By taking these measures, Malawi can make significant progress in the fight against corruption and improve the lives of its citizens.