No sacred cows in fight against corruption – President Mutharika

Lilongwe, President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika says there are no sacred cows in the fight against corruption.

The President said the fight against corruption is a continuing one and must be treated as a national priority hence everyone should be treated equally before the law.

Mutharika made the remarks Friday at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe during the National Anti-Corruption Conference.

He said since May, 2014, when he became President of this country on the heels of cash gate, government, through the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, approached the fight against corruption from a different angle.

We have made significant strides in bringing to book the cashgate perpetrators and their accomplices, said Mutharika, adding, If we had strong preventive measures, cashgate would not have happened. There are people today in this country who play down impact of cashgate because of the amount that was involved.

He said the truth of the matter is that cashgate was not only responsible for losses of huge amounts in public revenue; it also plunged this country to its lowest level on the index of corruption perception.

Mutharika further said Government shall prioritize prevention over prosecution.

As they intensify their preventive work, we shall provide the ACB with capacity to carry out their prosecutions work where that is needed.

Cases of corruption when properly handled and when appropriate sentences are given by the courts will have a deterrent effect, explained the President.

The Malawi Leader said the damage caused by the cashgate scandal cannot be repaired by finger-pointing or making unfounded accusations of corruption against one another, but through concerted effort aimed at eliminating the vice altogether.

He said; As we devise new methods of fighting corruption, we need to critically examine all the forms which this vice takes. Is it high level corruption or is it petty bribery that impedes service delivery or patronage and nepotism that exacerbates inequalities and entrench poverty in society?

Which institutions in the public service are severely affected by corruption? These are some of the questions that we must honestly attempt to answer if the battle is to be won.

Answers are needed at all levels so that those in leadership make right decisions that will steer the country’s course better and more effectively, according to Mutharika.

He said it is a fight that every Malawian must engage in for himself and herself, and the next generation; for a better Malawi beyond rhetoric and comforting words.

Mutharika added that the resolutions and recommendations made at this Conference would help Government in reviewing the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the law on corrupt practices including the current Act and other laws; empowering the law enforcement bodies to perform better; intensify our work on taking preventive measures in the fight against corruption.

Undertaking further reforms in the Public Service targeting the practices and areas that encourage corrupt practices; implement Access to Information (ATI) Act in order to foster more transparency in the way Government does business; extend the reach of CPA to cover corruption in private sector among others.

He therefore commended the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for steering the re-definition of our course in the fight against corruption.

Speaking on what delegates at the meeting discussed, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu said delegates at the conference adopted a policy on the fight against corruption which is not currently working in the expected manner.

He said the question that was posed by the delegates was why instruments that government has adopted as a nation to end in the fight against corruption are not working in the manner that is expected to work.

Is there any need to review those instruments? Several recommendations were made that there is indeed need to review those instruments to change the people’s attitudes and the agencies tasked with the job must also know what the mandate is, explained Tembenu.

Chief Secretary to the Government Justice Lloyd Muhara said the objective brought them together to re-examine where government stands to fight corruption and consider the approach to fight the graft.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA