The National Anti-Corruption Alliance has launched the ‘Pay Back Our Money’ campaign to encourage people who looted public funds and property to voluntarily restitute and urged government to provide a 30-day amnesty for such persons.
While appreciating the current arrests linked to abuse of public funds, the alliance members said in a media briefing in Mzuzu yesterday that Malawians want those responsible not just arrested, but also convicted and the looted property or money recovered.
The alliance is a formation of Malawi Law Society (MLS), Youth and Society (YAS), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Church and Society of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia.
CHRR leader Michael Kaiyatsa said the alliance aims to clean up the corruption mess in the country which has left Malawians impoverished as resources were only enjoyed by the corrupt few at the expense of the majority poor.
He said: “We have seen arrests before, but nothing happened. So we are saying, when you arrest them, conclude the cases, and the money or property stolen should be given back to Malawians. We don’t want rhetoric anymore, we are tired of it.
“So, we want to use social and traditional media as much as possible. We will have a media campaign urging Malawians on the need for those that have taken our money to pay back. This will be a sustained campaign, and if we see that nothing is happening, that cases keep on dragging, we will mobilise people to demonstrate.”
On his part, Charles Kajoloweka of YAS suggested the need to establish a Financial Crimes Court to specifically handle corruption cases.
“We are also proposing that a commission of inquiry be set up to establish how much as a country we have lost to corruption over the past few years, and what we need to do. The special court will help expedite corruption cases,” he said.
The alliance chairperson Moses Mkandawire, who heads Church and Society, said Malawi needs to re-evaluate and address issues of management and disposal of seized and confiscated assets.
He said: “We also need to look at the legal framework governing the administration of seized and confiscated assets, planning parametres on the management of seized assets and control measures.
“This should unpack issues around independent auditors that may address the certification of financial records, including designation of a competent national authority responsible for all aspects of the custody and management of seized assets.”
Meanwhile, Information Minister Gospel Kazako has said the sanitisation process in government has already started.
He said in an interview yesterday: “There is a process of trying to check who the suspects are, so let’s wait and see what the police and courts can do. But you can be assured that the sanitisation process is on.”
Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Nicholas Dausi in a separate interview said the arrests of the party’s members were meant to break the spirit of the party.
He was commenting on the several arrests that the Fiscal police have made in past week, mainly involving DPP functionaries suspected of abusing public offices.
“We are not saying ACB should not investigate all those who committed crimes, but in just two weeks, it’s just too much! If they think these arrests will break our spirit, they are wrong. We are actually going back to the drawing board and will come back stronger,” he said.
Earlier, anti-corruption law expert Wesley Mwafulirwa suggested what he terms ‘Deep Democratisation Theory’ to empower citizens to check how those in power are amassing their wealth.
He also urged government not to stifle the work of the media and CSOs that keep it in check.
Said Mwafulirwa: “We want even those in government to be put on check. I would also love that we do some reforms like criminalising corporate corruption because at the moment, a company or corporation cannot be held criminally liable because under the Corrupt Practices Act, we only have that for money laundering.”
He also called for the need to formulate public litigation laws so that CSOs are flexed on the locus standi to easily follow up on some public offices that misuse public money.