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Monday, October 3, 2022

API demands stepping down of senior government officials…to pave way for investigations

By Iommie Chiwalo

The back and forth approach by the country’s graft bursting body, Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) which is now seeming toothless has forced rights watchdog under the banner Action Against Impunity (API) to demand for resignation of senior government officials, saying are delaying investigation process.

In a statement by the grouping, those on the list of call are Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Dr. Steve Kayuni, Secretary to Treasury Dr. MacDonald Mafuta Mwale, Accountant General (AG) Jean Munyenyembe, Minister of Mines Albert Mbawala, IFMIS Director Felix Zagwazatha Sato and Grace Mponela, a Human Resource officer at the Accountant General’s office.

The rights activists in the name of CDEDI Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa, Gomezgani Nkhoma of Mzuzu Youth Caucus, Rights activists Rodney Salamu, Mundango Nyirenda, Wells Khama, Zainab Hassan, Steven Chimwaza and Richard Mphepo feel that the stepping down of the said individuals will pave the way for smooth investigations by the ACB.

According to the rights watchdog individuals, all depends on leadership which should have been on the forefront advocating for results in the investigations that are taking forever by just arresting of junior accountants at the Accountant General’s department leaving out the “big fishes”.

“In fact, if it were in a serious country, President Chakwera should have fired the above officers for their alleged involvement in abuse of office and unjustifiable accumulation of allowances. API, therefore, will not hesitate, if President Chakwera does not act speedily on this matter, to call for vigils at Capital Hill for the officers to be fired or resign,” reads the statement.

Initially one of API members, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) wrote the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe top government officials that immensely benefited from the dubious allowances, a scandal that came to light following the arrests of junior public servants at the Accountant General’s office in Lilongwe.

And ACB responded, through a letter dated 3rd August 2022, indicating that it is screening CDEDI’s complaint. A few days later, the bureau asked for trace marks, which CDEDI dutifully provided.

However there is lesser action towards the same since the calls by the API to have senior government officials step down as it has always been difficult to investigate officials who are reporting on duty.

Notably DPP Kayuni is in records to have accumulated dubious allowances for 372 nights in a year that has 365 days.

On general well being, the rights activists have also taken a swipe at the impending electricity tariff hike by warning the Tonse Alliance administration against the insensitive decision that is very likely to fuel anger among Malawians who are already down-trodden with the sky-rocketing prices of essential goods and services which are making their lives unbearable.

The API has challenged government, through the Minister of Energy Hon. Ibrahim Matola, to make power available to the voters before thinking of skinning them alive with such inhumane tariff hike which, if implemented, will worsen the problem of deforestation.

Like API, parliamentary committee on Natural Resources and Environment Chairperson, Welani Chilenga has also warned that parliament will not take up the suggestion of hiking the electricity tariffs.

The statement has also spoken about court ruling on relocation of refugees and asylum seekers, saying API welcomes the ruling by the High Court, which has nodded to the Malawi Government, specifically the Ministry of Homeland Security, to proceed with its arrangement to relocate to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa District all refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

“While API trusts that the ministry will start the exercise immediately, it is questioning the piece-meal approach the ministry seems to have used by opting to start with refugees and asylum seekers in rural areas, leaving out those in urban areas,”.

Investigations by this publication shows that refugees and asylum seekers in the urban areas were not part of the court proceedings.

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