US says Malawi corruption not contained: No sense of accountability at all govt levels’

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    The United States of America (USA) is not satisfied with Malawi’s ongoing public sector reforms and fight against worsening corruption, saying government still needs to do more as there is still “no sense of accountability on all government levels.”.

    US Ambassador Virginia Palmer: Faults corruption fight

    US Ambassador Virginia Palmer, speaking during a reception she hosted in Lilongwe to commemorate her country’s independence on July 4, said the Malawi Government needs to do more to ensure procurement regulations are being observed and that tighten controls to the public purse.

    “I think that the bottom line is that there isn’t a sense of accountability at all government level,” said Palmer.

    Palmer said if the controls are tighter, the taxpayers and development partners “could get a bang of results for the resources they invest.”

    There remains a clear reluctance on the part of the Peter Mutharika government to act against corruption and, more specifically, to act against his allies in the cabinet who appear to have a case to answer as seems to be the situation with the former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water George Chaponda.

    Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Francis Kasaila, who was the guest of honour during the USA’s 241st independence anniversary commemoration, said the country is aware of the challenges it faces on graft.

    “Everyone is aware about the issue of corruption, but it it one man’s fight? No. It requires all of us working together to be bale to successfully end or significantly reduce corruption,” said Kasaila.

    Kasaila said Malawi is learning from America, among others in the areas of democracy, transparency, human rights and respect for the rule of law.

    In this regard, he said Malawi is determined to promote good governance in the areas of fiscal and monetary discipline and accountability.

    New British High Commissioner Holly Tett was recently quoted as saying her government would welcome authorities to be bolder in their anti-corruption fight by not interfering with the work of institutions such as Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) .

    University of Malawi political scientist and researcher Boniface Dulani is on record to have observed that efforts to strengthen anti-corruption institutions such as the ACB since Cashgate have not been successful and, instead, confidence in the governance institution continues to go down.

    “Corruption has become so normal, at all levels of society, such that it is a waste of time reporting a suspected corrupt practice. ACB has a huge vacancy of investigators and when they investigate, prosecution is selective,” he said.

    Dulani further noted that the perceptions that corruption is on the rise were correct, going by the reports that there was political interference in the completion of investigations on suspected corruption at public institutions such as the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).

    “This is not an ACB problem alone, it is political. When a whole ACB director says he will not continue investigations and has no explanations to make, then you know we have a problem. All this starts from the appointment of people into such institutions, knowing they could be removed anytime makes them align themselves to politicians,” he said.

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