Special Cashgate prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu has lamented lack of coordinated action on current corruption cases.
Nyasulu, who successfully prosecuted Cashgate cases through the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), where he was hired by donors, now works with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
He argues, in a yet-to-be-published opinion, that there is need for government and donors to still build a coalition of public institutions to fight corruption in the country.
Nyasulu’s sentiments, which are in a yet-to-be published opinion piece, agree with those of a source close to a corruption fight coalition between donors and government, who claims government was frustrated by the pulling out of donor aid towards the initiative.
But Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Janet Banda, in an interview yesterday said there was no need for the committee to continue meeting as there are now new circumstances which necessitate that government changes its approach.
“You cannot expect two governments to deal with issues in a similar way. Each government comes with its own approach. On the issue of donors, they played their role when government was faced with corruption and embezzlement of unprecedented levels, the first of its kind. It is now up to Malawians to deal with the issue patriotically and correct things without relying on outsiders. It is a national call,” said Banda.
The source close to the coalition says the pulling out of the donors has led to the demise of the initiative while change of administration means the current one has no interest in such an initiative.
In his opinion, Nyasulu observes that the government and development partners coalition was able to give strategic direction to respond to the [April to September 2013] K24 billion Cashgate while there seems to be no direction on 2009-2014 K577 billion [revised to K236 billion] Cashgate.
He also observes that following the revelations of the K24 billion Cashgate under the Joyce Banda administration, the coalition played a critical role in the subsequent prosecution of those responsible, and says a similar plan was needed.
“Joint planning, a joint strategy and implementation of some of the frauds and corruption incidences would achieve a lot and leave lasting impact. It has already been seen that, properly managed, a coalition between the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Auditor General would be effective,” says Nyasulu.
He adds: “The banks, in coalition with certified fraud examiners (finance, and legal law enforcement) would form a formidable coalition that would be more than just effective in the fight against fraud and its impact would be felt.”
Nyasulu says corruption is worsening and getting pervasive in the country, but can only be tackled if citizens are mobilised to take action at every level of society.
On his part the source close to the defunct coalition said government’s attempt to stop the release of the names of those implicated in the K577 billion Cashgate is as a clear demonstration that the current administration has a different approach.
Following revelations of the K24 billion Cashgate under the Banda administration, which was later confirmed by the Baker Tilly forensic audit report, donors and government agencies formed a task force that played a key role in chartering government’s response and led to several breakthroughs, including arrests and successful prosecutions.
Then, donors poured in resources while the DPP, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Fiscal and Fraud Police, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Immigration and others, worked together—a far cry from recent reports of infighting between the DPP and the ACB.
One of the development partners UK, through its High Commission in Lilongwe, said in an e-mailed response, it was still committed to the fight against corruption that local authorities should do more to finance the fight against the vice.
Head of political and public affairs Hellen Chabunya said the UK remains concerned about corruption in Malawi and closely monitors the government’s progress in making vital public financial management reforms.
“We applaud the good progress on prosecuting those involved in ‘Cashgate’. There are encouraging signs of long over-due tougher action against Malawian officials involved in fraud and corruption, but this needs to be stepped up,” said Chabunya.
She added: “Overall, we are pleased to see 16 convictions for serious corruption to date, with more cases ongoing, and sentences that have been handed down totalling 125 years in jail.
“However, ours is merely a supporting role in the fight against corruption. Authorities could be bolder by doing more against corruption; for example, through adequate funding to the investigating and prosecuting authorities, and strengthening the independence of the ACB, the DPP and the Auditor General to avoid accusations of political interference.”
In his opinion piece, Nyasulu, whose extensive experience includes prosecuting some war crimes in Kosovo for a United Nations (UN) tribunal, further urges for alternative ways of holding public officials accountable apart from traditional law enforcement at a time citizen confidence in the institutions is waning. n