Corruption is an evil,” APM said in his address on Monday during this year’s commemoration of John Chilembwe Day at Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) in Chiradzulu.
“And I want this evil to stop!” he warned, claiming that slowly, his government is taming this evil by strengthening the Anti-Corruption Bureau, National Audit and all graft busting institutions.
“There is corruption in the private sector, in the judiciary, in the media and the faith community. However, one man cannot fight corruption alone. We need to fight it together. If you see corruption, report to the authorities. The trouble in this country is that we are politicising corruption. They say corruption is growing. I don’t think so. It is not true that corruption is growing in this country. What has been growing is the perception of corruption.”
Now, wait a minute! So is the perception of corruption not worrying enough for you Mr. President?
We on the streets feel that corruption perception is actually worse because corruption perception scares investors. No investor in their right mind would want to invest in a country where the system is perceived to be corrupt from top to bottom.
Denying that corruption is growing is self-indulgent to say the least. Malawi is a leaking bucket. The sheer size of the Cashgate scandal, both in terms of the amount of K24 billion and the wide number of people involved, showed how deeply rooted the problem is.
The involvement of the country’s political class in the scandal is in stark contradiction to their penchant for standing on political campaign podiums promising to fight corruption with all their might.
We on the streets voted enmasse for Peter Mutharika because he had good ideas when he was running for office, including ideas to fight corruption. In the run-up to the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, the President promised that the appointment and removal of heads of accountability institutions such as ACB, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and parastatals would be “on merit through a special public appointments committee” and not by the President.
But the President has since then backed down on this promise. Political appointments into these offices as experience has shown is pulling back efforts of fighting corruption in the country. No wonder donors, civil society leaders and Malawians are still complaining of growing corruption tendencies at all levels.
Was it not last year that a visiting Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Department for International Development (DfID) James Wharton also echoed sentiments about political interference in ACB? Mr. President, if corruption not growing in this country, why do we have to pay bribes to get services in government offices such as the Directorate of Road Traffic and Road Safety Services (DRTSS). Why do we have to bribe police officers at roadbloacks and why are you still involved in ACB director’s appointment?
Ladies and gentlemen, our dear leader must do the needful and that is to fight corruption. He must listen to his peers in the African Union. Two weeks ago, in his New Year’s message, Moussa Faki Mahamat actually accepted that corruption, not just perception, is a huge challenge on the continent. He said despite encouraging steps in the past five years, huge challenges remain in the fight against the problem for which the African Union (AU) has declared the year 2018 as African anti-corruption year.
He noted that the year has been declared “Project 2018”, with the theme, “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation,” under which the upcoming summit of the AU heads of states will also be held.
Word on the street is that, year 2018, offers APM an opportunity to lead other African nations in dealing with ‘corruption perception’.