The European Union and Malawi government Friday signed a finance agreement totaling to EUR 48Million (Mk39Billion) for the implementation of a newly introduced Chilungamo programme which focuses on justice and accountability.
Among other things, the programme seeks to enhance voter education, improve access to justice through provision of free legal aid and training of more lawyers as well as provide liberty to Malawians to demand accountability while holding duty bearers to account.
Speaking after signing the agreement in Lilongwe, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe said lack of transparency and accountability as well as low access to justice have been some of the major challenges facing the country.
He described the financial assistance through the Chilungamo programme a great response as it will contribute to the dignified life through accountability by the government and give Malawians a chance to make informed and democratic choices and improve on the effective delivery of justice.
“I am glad to have signed this agreement of about EUR 48Million for the programme which will support the democratic governance sector to promote transparency and accountability and ensure there is access to justice for the vulnerable groups and entrenchment of rule of law.
“There are a number of institutions that will benefit from the assistance and among them includes; the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the judiciary, Malawi police service, National Registration Bureau and the Malawi human rights,” Gondwe explained.
The finance minister highlighted that beyond this; the support will help in building capacity in the management of electoral process, the rolling out of national identity cards and improve performance of non-state actors to effectively monitor public service delivery and usage of public resources.
“It is particularly pleasing to note that the programme will extend further the support towards the media in Malawi in the area of investigative journalism. The media is an integral part of any accountable democracy, and as such, it cannot be overlooked in terms of any capacity building needs,” he explained.
Ambassador and Head of European Union (EU) delegation to Malawi Marchel Gerrmann said they decided to support the country because democratic governance is the priority for both Malawi and the EU.
Germann defined the Chilungamo programme a tool that will help to create a more conducive environment for inclusive growth and better services for the people Malawi.
“As EU we believe that only an open and transparent society that respects the values and ethics of its citizen can develop to its full potential. Citizens should play a proactive role to engage duty bearers and demand quality services,” the EU head explained.
He however disclosed that the support is a result of a successful implementation of a similar programme four years ago. He said the programme saw reduction in null and void votes during the last general election, construction of a new annex building of law at chancellor college, reduced congestion in prison through free legal aid and a better equipped judiciary by the installation of a hi-tech case management systems that links the judiciary and the office of the director of public prosecution.
Meanwhile, Gerrmann has promised to support the operation of the local court Act which is aimed at bridging the justice to the people in communities, assist in the national Identity programme and the electoral process as the country prepares for the 2019 elections.
Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA