Malawi’s major donors have called for speedy investigations into the gruesome murder of Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) director of administration and corporate affairs Issa Njauju.
The donors have further warned against attempts to cripple the bureau through intimidation and bribery.
The call was made on Thursday when British, Irish, German, United States (US), Norwegian and European Union (EU) envoys visited the ACB headquarters in Lilongwe as the development partners moved to rally around the embattled graft-busting body.
Officials at ACB as well as other crime-busting and prosecuting agencies say they have been living in fear since Njauju’s murder.
And with no suspects apprehended to date, the rare diplomatic action yesterday sought to galvanise support for the bureau that is at the heart of Cashgate investigations and prosecutions.
Government, through Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu, said in our sister paper Nation on Sunday that it was considering a comprehensive review of the security structure for ACB and other justice sector employees.
The calls for speed in the probe were reiterated by the envoys in separate addresses alongside calls for increased funding to the law enforcement agencies.
Speaking after the visit, British High Commissioner Michael Nevin said the ACB’s ability to fight graft should not be held at ransom by those seeking to “manipulate or undermine the criminal justice system through bribery or intimidation.”
Added Nevin: “We must reject and expose them and work together to stop them. We call on government and all sections of Malawi society to help and protect those who are in the frontline of defending Malawi’s rule of law.”
Nevin reiterated “the strong sympathy with the bureau in the aftermath of the murder, but attempted to lift the morale of the employees by telling them that as frontline fighters in the battle against corruption, they were involved in an important fight.
“The more you succeed the more resources Malawi will have to spend on things that matter to its people—health, education etc, and the more that impunity will be checked.
“That is important for us too in the international community: when you register success, it enables us to argue Malawi’s case for further assistance; while the country becomes less aid dependent because more resources are able to be retained and spent effectively,” added Nevin.
On his part, ACB director general Lucas Kondowe said the officials at the bureau are still living in fear, but vowed the agency will not relent in pursuit of its objectives.
He further updated the envoys on the security upgrade attempts, saying all was being done to ensure the bureau does not suffer serious setbacks in carrying out its mandate due to the episode.
Njauju’s death is widely connected to his work at the bureau although police say investigators are looking into several possible motives and are yet to narrow down on possible leads.
Crucially, just after the Njauju’s death, the bureau’s deputy director Reynack Matemba confirmed in an interview with Nation on Sunday that he had received death threats alongside another bureau investigator—leading to speculation that Njauju may have been assassinated for reasons connected to the bureau.