Despite continued vows from President Peter Mutharika’s administration to fight corruption, the British Government is yet to get convinced.
British High Commissioner Michael Nevin has observed that the cancer of corruption has continued spreading since his posting to Malawi in June 2012.
In his opinion on corruption which The Nation has exclusively published in today’s Business News section, Nevin observes that Malawians are among the victims of the vice as they continue complaining of not getting services without being asked for a bribe.
“The theft of funds from government accounts, the theft of drugs, inflated or non-existent procurement contracts, ghost workers, dishonest claims by officeholders for rental refunds and bogus allowance claims by public servants [are some of the examples],” observes Nevin. He says this is money which could have supported self-development and reduce the need for aid.
In his opinion, Nevin also notes that many governance indicators show a downward trend and the country risks heading down a dangerous road if it fails to bring to justice assailants of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) senior officer Issa Njauju.
His observation comes after Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice (CCJP) and many other bodies challenged government to find murderers of Njauju.
However, Nevin commends the progress made by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and ACB in prosecuting people involved in Cashgate, and believes these “are signs of long over-due tougher action against Malawian officials involved in fraud and theft.”
The High Commissioner has since suggested 10 actions for the country to consider as Mutharika sets the tone for fighting corruption.
Among them, Nevin thinks there is still need for a genuine zero-tolerance approach that lowers the bar for firing officials and their advisers with greater emphasis on ethical behaviour expectations and performance.
He also suggests a transparent tendering of all government contracts, including of security equipment, with measures to prevent “insider trading.”
“There is not one magic solution to boost Malawi’s development. But the strategic impact of measures to prevent fraud, theft and corruption would be significant..,” he says.
The Malawi Confederation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has repeatedly said Malawi continues to lose millions through corruption because it heavily affects business and its growth. n