With less than five months to the May 21 Tripartite Elections, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) says it hopes the polls will give the country an opportunity for a fresh start in the fight against corruption.
In an emailed response on the society’s expectations for 2019, MLS honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde said the society will step up efforts to ensure that the rule of law is respected in the country.
She said: “We are hoping that the next elections will usher in politicians with a zeal to fight corruption. When the Legislature is geared towards zero corruption, it will come up with bills that will ensure that the Anti-Corruption Bureau [ACB] is independent of any influence and will hence be able to fight corruption without considering who is involved or affected.
“MLS will push for those amendments to be passed by Parliament while at the same time, pushing for public interest litigation to create checks where there is clear lack of enforcement by responsible agencies.”
A 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report published by Transparency International (TI) shows that Malawi had worsened on corruption, tumbling down two places from 120 in 2016 to 122 in 2017.
Kaukonde said the ACB’s independence and the debate surrounding the removal of powers to hire and fire the ACB director from the hands of the President remained outstanding.
Parliament last month passed an amendment to the Corrupt Practices Act which prescribes that future candidates to the office of the ACB director would face an independent interviewing panel but the President would still have the final say on the appointment.
Commenting on MLS expectations, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political commentator Gift Sambo in an interview yesterday cast doubt on whether elections could be the answer to corruption woes in the country, saying there has not been a change in the system to ensure that high -candidates are produced for parliamentary seats.
He also faulted how candidates are selected to represent people in national elections.
Said Sambo: “If you have observed, most voters do not really understand or care what a particular candidate stands for. What matters to them is whether the person either belongs to a party of their choice, or comes from their tribe or region, or gives some incentives. Because of this scenario, it does not inspire much confidence that we will have a different crop of parliamentarians that can fight corruption.”
Sambo, therefore, said the focus should be on building the capacity of MPs when they are elected.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo, whose body was behind a number of street demonstrations in 2018 demanding answers to a number of issues including corruption, said the civil society would not relent in its efforts to hold government accountable on a number of governance issues.