The country’s biggest anti-corruption conference ended in Lilongwe with, among others, a call for President Peter Mutharika to launch a personal crusade against corruption in the country.
Apart from a crusade by the president, delegates also proposed the review of laws on protection of whistleblowers, independence of the graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), special courts to tackle corruption, enforcement of declaration of assets laws and review of procurement laws, among others.
Keynote speaker and renowned Kenyan orator Professor Patrick Lumumba on Thursday and yesterday appealed for strong leadership to fight graft.
As the President officially closed the summit which attracted over 300 delegates from across the country and beyond, the gathering singled out political leadership as the number one perquisite in the fight.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu read out a number of the resolutions during the closing ceremony at Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) and delivered the sentiment on the need for a presidential crusade directly to Mutharika who also addressed the final day of the conference.
“Your Excellency, towards the end of the dialogue as the delegates returned from their groups with their recommendations, all of them pointed to leadership as being the main driver in the fight against corruption. I agree entirely,” he said.
According to Tembenu, all the resolutions of the conference will be submitted to Cabinet for discussions after the justice ministry examines the proposals.
However, it is unclear whether government will accept the recommendations or the Cabinet will opt to cherry-pick its favourable points.
In his speech, Mutharika appeared ready for the challenge but also observed that the fight against corruption would take collective efforts beyond his office alone.
“Often-times, people say there is need for a strong political will to fight and defeat corruption. I agree, we cannot fight corruption without political will. That is why I have never tolerated corruption.
“But let me add one thing. It takes more than political will to fight corruption. It is for this reason we dedicated these special days that we as a nation must come together and do a collective soul-searching,” said Mutharika. However, the President defended his government from criticism that it was weak on corruption.
Speaking earlier, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda said corruption was strangling the country’s progress and said corruption was a national emergency.
“Corruption is a disease that is quickly strangling our governance agenda to death. And how do you manage a disease that is an emergency? We must realise that cases of corruption are emergencies that deserve to be dealt with aggressively and expeditiously. This is not to say we will relegate the other cases in the system,” added Nyirenda.
The two-day conference was, among others, attended by ministers, judges, donors, heads of constitutional bodies, academia, civil society and experts.