By Watipaso Mzungu
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has yet again dared President Lazarus Chakwera, asking him to walk the talk on his promise to trim presidential powers and depoliticize the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa argues that Malawi cannot win the battle against corruption and theft of public funds when the ACB Director General and the Inspector General of Police (IG) remain in the ambit of the State President.
Namiwa has made the sentiments in a statement issued on Tuesday. He said it is disheartening to see that President Chakwera is backtracking on his campaign promises to give ACB the independence it requires to do its professional job.
“Fighting corruption can only be achieved if the President lets his hands off the appointment of the two officers – the ACB Director General and the police IG. It is against this background that we challenge President Chakwera to let an independent body conduct interviews for those that have been shortlisted for the position of the ACB Director General,” he says.
The CDEDI boss further rues the tendency by sitting Presidents to appoint heads of the two institutions, stressing that this compromises the independence of the bureau.
Namiwa says CDEDI and well-meaning Malawians are at pains to see Chakwera backtracking on his earlier promise to Malawians that he would not accept to be conferred the honour of being the Chancellor of the public Universities in the country.
“Surprisingly, the President looked the other way and is now crisscrossing the country to preside over graduation ceremonies, something he passionately spoke against while he was occupying the opposition benches. The President at some point justified his shameful departure from his own promise on the pretext of waiting for legislation on the same. Who is the President waiting for to make the first move? Isn’t this the very same business as usual kind of political rhetoric we are always fed? Is President Chakwera really a man of his words?” he asks.
On the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds feared to have been looted at the Capital Hill and the councils, Namiwa reminds Chakwera that Malawians are still waiting for an update on the progress his government has made in investigating the scandal.
At this point, CDEDI is challenging the Tonse government to address teachers’ grievances to ensure the children return to school.
Namiwa says the current standoff between government and the teachers in public schools, who are being represented by the Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM), is as a result of ‘government’s know it all’ kind of approach in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
He says CDEDI has, time without number, warned both the previous administration of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as well as the current Tonse Alliance led government to desist from making unilateral decisions when coming up with new guidelines aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The teachers’ standoff would have easily been avoided if government had made thorough consultations with all the relevant stakeholders regarding the issue of risk allowances. The teachers are echoing CDEDI’s sentiments that the Tonse Alliance government is applying preferential treatment when making its decision, a development that is very detrimental in a democratic dispensation. CDEDI is once again reiterating its earlier stand that government should avoid the copy and paste kind of approach in the way it is responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. Let there be transparency and a thorough consultative process with all the relevant stakeholders such as the academia; traditional, religious and political leaders; representatives of the Civil Society Organisations, etc in order to respond favourably to emerging issues in the course of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” stresses Namiwa.
Meanwhile, Namiwa has reminded Chakwera to openly exonerate himself from the serious nepotistic, favoutism, corruption and fraud allegations being leveled against him and his senior State House and top government officials.
Former Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislator Alex Major made the allegations a few days ago.
The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) backed the allegations although they have received deafening silence from Chakwera.
“If this is the case, then CDEDI has been vindicated that Malawians should expect another five wasted years, and not a new Malawi we were all made to believe was coming,” warns Namiwa.