Civil society organisations (CSOs) have described Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s stance on ending corruption in Malawi as a bold political move every leader should take in the fight against the vice.
The CSOs were reacting to Chilima’s statement during the United Transformation Movement (UTM) launch on Saturday at Lilongwe’s Masintha ground where he declared that if elected as President next year, he will seal loopholes leading to the loss of billions of kwacha from public coffers.
In their reactions, the CSOs said Chilima’s promise is welcome, but they argued that if government is to save resources, sealing loopholes in public resource abuse should be done now and not after the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka said: “His position on tackling corruption is incredibly inspiring. Winning the war against corruption needs bold political will from the top.
“Unfortunately, in Malawi, Presidents have been primary beneficiaries and facilitators of corruption and fraud; hence, their calls for a corruption-free public service have been a flop.”
Kajoloweka, whose organisation is part of Human Rights Defenders (HRD), also hailed the Vice-President’s remarks on making the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) independent, urging Chilima to go beyond mere rhetoric and implement his promises if elected president.
On his part, activist Billy Mayaya said fighting corruption requires immediate intervention from government.
He said: “In the remainder of his time in government [as Vice-President], Chilima must convince Malawians on the ‘how’ of combating corruption within the rank and file of government instead of whipping the electorate into a frenzy with rhetoric.
“As a long-time insider, one assumes he has a wealth of whistle-blower information. This entails how he will engage with the ACB as well as map out issues of anti-graft in his broader strategy.”
In a separate interview, Centre for Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence described Chilima’s anti-corruption remarks as a good development.
He said: “This is a good development. What has been lacking is visionary leadership and commitment to reform our laws in order to fight corruption. We need leaders who are able to think outside the box, beyond just rhetoric.”
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo, in a WhatsApp response, said Chilima’s remarks on ending corruption through sealing loopholes were inspiring.
He said: “What the VP said is what we have been fighting for. We need to strengthen our laws and systems to allow the laws and systems dictate the way State affairs are run. As advocates of good governance, we will support any leader who will stand by such values.”
In his speech, a highly charged and emotional Chilima spoke strongly against corruption, warning he would reveal more rot in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration he has served as Vice-President since 2014.
He also said if he is elected president, he will review some laws regarding the appointment of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director so as to make the bureau independent from political interference.
Chilima, who some UTM members endorsed during the launch as the movement’s torchbearer in the 2019 elections, also said if he takes power next year, he will give a 30-day amnesty to all those involved in the plunder of public resources to return the money or face the law.
DPP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi told our sister paper Nation on Sunday yesterday that ideas which Chilima has on ending corruption are a ‘carbon copy ’ of the DPP, a party he ditched.
The UTM is scheduled to hold similar rallies in Blantyre, Mzuzu and Mangochi.