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Editorial: Malawi media, non-governmental and civil society organizations, have keen, eagle eye on corrupt practices

The establishment of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) two decades ago during the Muluzi Administration, was to fight corruption everywhere.

It has been alarming and a pitiful laughing situation, to watch the paper tiger institution “fight corruption everywhere.” This is because, while corruption in the past 20 years, has evolved to an art form in government circles, the “fight corruption everywhere,” has really been “fight corruption everywhere but here,” unless instructed from higher up.
The Administrations of Muluzi, Mutharika, Joyce Banda, and Mutharika, have been soaring; but they allowed the fight corruption body to use kid gloves, often looking away or being stone-deaf when either governing party supporters, senior fellow party members or relations enter in the corruption pit.
In the two decades 1994-2017, it has been the five pillars – the media, faith-based organizations, civil society organizations, traditional leaders and nongovernmental organizations – that have been, and still are, at the forefront in the fight to uproot corruption in the corridors of the three arms of government – especially the executive and legislative branches.
However, Government on Thursday called for joint efforts in the fight against corruption in the country. Making this call when he spoke in Lilongwe at the start of the two-day National Anti- Corruption Conference, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu, bluntly told the gathering that government adopted an anti-corruption strategy in 2008 complete with eight pillars namely: the media, faith-based organizations, executive, judiciary, legislature, civil society organizations, traditional leaders and nongovernmental organizations.
According to Minister Tembenu, he claimed that it is only the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature pillars that are active pillars in the fight against corruption.
To this bold allegation, because the minister has accused the other pillars of being silent, blind or deaf where corruption is concerned, it is only the three pillars of the government that are active. The minister then turned on the private sector and even on the civil society where he said he has observed that corruption is rampant.
Corruption is an evil vice that dwindles national development. Earlier this week the State President, Peter Mutharika, placed blame on the country’s civil society and NGOs for pulling back Malawi’s development efforts, because they do not understand democracy.
We wish to defer with the First Citizen. Just because someone is on your side or vehemently agrees with your views, it does not place them in the category of being knowledgeable in issues concerning democracy. In the same way, because numerous NGOs and civil society organizations are usually championing the welfare of vulnerable Malawians, many times they pit themselves against the Govetnment stand. This does not place them in the levels of ignoramuses.
To be frank, it is the media, faith-based organizations, NGOs, and some traditional leaders, that are at the helm, calling on the highest figures on the Government side, to take action on various corrupt officials.
What is ironical and pitiful, there are reports of the executive-controlled police and Anti-Corruption Bureau, that are daily arresting political opponents and charging them with trumped up charges.
It is grateful thanks to the independent media in Malawi, which whistle-blows on Govetnment officials corruption and at the same time, shines its media lights on politically-motivated criminalizing of political opponents.
We get it, attaining power is great; staying in power is also a wonderful thing. We are however, in a democracy. On the issue of corruption, corrupt practices, please our beloved governors, you are reminded: there is no more “Wa Muyaya” (Life President).
A day is coming when you will be out of office, and in the opposition. Government had shown every time, that it will be Govetnment: willy-nilly arresting opponents or loud critics of the Government. Five administrations have lived up to this willy-nilly arresting opponents or loud critics.
The mentioned organizations (media and co.) are active. In their activities, the mentioned organizations are leaning on the elements of democracy and development.
Ironically and sadly, in the five administrations (Kamuzu Banda, Bakili Muluzi, Bingu Wa Mutharika, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika), it could be advanced that the desire and willy-nilly changes in government practices and policies (for the sake of being different from one’s predecessors), are signs corrupt practice.
Practices and policies of government, belong to the nation; in many cases, changes lead to loss in revenue because a new party introduces new policies that normally comes with change of staff.
The government must behave like the government. It should work with, instead of castigate stakeholders, in the development wheel.
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