Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma has committed to fight corrupt practices fuelling wildlife crimes and destruction of the country’s environment.
She said this on Monday after meeting with Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus, Malawi Police Service and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust during the launch of a report on the role of corruption in wildlife and forest crimes in Malawi.
The report was funded by the United States Forests and Wildlife Services, with technical support from Lilongwe Wildlife Trust.
Chizuma said despite allegations that public officers receive bribes to enable the illegal forest product trade; the bureau has not received any complaint to investigate such crimes.
“We will keep our eyes open. However, despite allegations of corruption in the sector, cases are not coming to ACB. We are not aware of the cases, but out there are so many,” she said.
Chizuma assured that so long the ACB gets a tip or an alleged corruption crime has been committed and brought to their attention, they will investigate.
The new ACB boss also warned people involved in wildlife crimes, especially public officers who receive bribes from criminals that they will be dealt with.
Warned Chizuma: “Public officers involved in this illicit trade will not be spared either. Combating 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
In his remarks, Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus co-chairperson Welani Chilenga hoped the involvement of ACB will help bring sanity in enforcing laws that protect forests and wildlife.
He said: “When it comes to manning of roadblocks in this country, we have seen that police officers are corrupt. You will find that a lot of charcoal is passing through roadblocks into our cities and towns.
“If you wonder how that charcoal passes through the roadblocks, the answer is corruption. Public officers are given money and they allow charcoal dealers to go through the roadblocks with truckloads of charcoal.”
Director of Forestry Clement Chilima acknowledged that some officers in the Forestry Department are involved in corruption and fuel destruction of forests. But he said the department will no longer tolerate such malpractices among its officers.
On her part, police Deputy Inspector General (Administration) Merlyne Yolamu called for a comprehensive approach in fighting forest and wildlife crimes, including dealing with the source, transit stage and consumers.