Cultural groupings formed to preserve and promote traditional values of various ethnic groups have been blamed for fuelling corruption in the country.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday when he opened an Anti-Corruption Symposium for Non-Governmental Organisations, Felix Lombe, chief executive officer of Africa Institute of Corporate Citizenship (Aicc), observed that such groupings exert undue pressure on people in leadership positions, especially where the office-bearer is from their group.
Said Lombe: “There are several reasons why people engage in corruption, including poverty and poor service delivery. But we tend to forget that cultural groupings are also a source of corruption.
“If a person is holding an influential position and he [or she] is from a certain grouping, he [she] cannot allow members of that group to suffer. In the end, favouritism creeps in and the whole country suffers.”
He said corruption levels are currently rising to the point that people are taking it as a norm.
“We are setting a very bad precedent because people have now lost hope that the war on corruption can be won. The most dangerous thing is that even business captains, those who were taken to be custodians of ethics, are also into corruption,” said Lombe.
He said to curb corruption, the country should give stiff sentences to those found guilty of the vice.
Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) executive director Dalitso Kubalasa, whose organisation jointly organised the forum with Aicc, agreed with Lombe that Malawi is losing the battle against corruption due to many factors, including patronage networks.
He said: “There is a perception that Malawi has never been at war, but I choose to differ. This country is fighting a tough war against corruption which is raging like fire, but unfortunately we are losing it. To stop this, we need to be vigilant and give out stiffer sentences. We must demand back what is ours.”
Boniface Dulani, associate professor of political science at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, said corruption negatively affects development.
He said studies have shown that a one percent rise in the level of corruption leads to an approximately 0.7 percent fall in economic growth.
Malawi has several cultural groupings. They include Mulhako wa Alhomwe, the Chewa Heritage Foundation (Chefo) and Mzimba Heritage Association for the Jere Ngoni. n