Key donors spell out governance concerns
THE country's donors under Common Approach to Budget Support (Cabs) want answers on a number of issues which still need to be addressed by President Joyce Banda's government.
The donors say democratic principles, the rule of law and fight against corruption are underlying principles of budget support.
In response, Finance Minister Ken Lipenga said Tuesday the government is addressing the issues, adding that some of them which need law reform were referred to the Malawi Law Commission for review.
Speaking yesterday during the opening session of the two-day Cabs review meeting, Cabs' chairperson Asbjorn Eidhammer praised the government on positive developments that have taken place on governance.
Among the developments, he applauded the government for general improved relationship and trust with non-governmental organisations, the opposition, media, and the setting up of a commission of inquiry on the last year's July 20 deaths.
He, however, said there is need address other outstanding governance concerns, including preparations for the planned 2014 tripartite elections.
"We trust that governance issues will continue and that outstanding issues will be addressed. Good preparations for the upcoming tripartite elections in 2014 are important to secure democratic rights," said Eidhammer, who is Norwegian Ambassador.
He also cited the need for enactment of laws to support women's rights and fight against gender-based violence and the need for access to information legislation to promote media freedom.
Eidhammer was also concerned with the developments at the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the National Audit Office (NAO).
"The president is committed to a new drive against corruption. To achieve results in this area, a strong and independent ACB and the restoration of the full functionality and credibility of the NAO is important.
"Revelation of abuse of public resources at the audit office is affecting the perception and accountability in use of public resources. We commend the government for taking action to improve the situation.
"However, we urge government to finalise the new management arrangements as soon as possible so as to enable the proper functioning of these important institutions," Eidhammer said.
In his remarks, Lipenga said the government is in the process of addressing the cited issues.
He said some of the legislations like Section 35 of the Police Act 2010, the Sexual Minorities Rights and Local Courts Act 2011, were referred to the Law Commission.
He also said the issues at the NAO and ACB are currently being addressed.
"It is worth noting that following the retirement of the Auditor General, the process of filling the vacant posts of both Auditor General and the Deputy Auditor General has started.
"In fact a name for the Auditor General has been submitted to Parliament and will be considered by Parliament during the November session. The Deputy Auditor General has already been appointed. There is also good progress on the appointment of the Director of ACB," Lipenga said.
In a list of key governance issues made available to the participants, the donors outlined eight key issues from where they are seeking answers, one of them was on declaration of assets.
"When is government enacting subsidiary legislation on Asset Declaration with view to facilitate the implementation of constitutional provisions on transparency and accountability?" Read one of the issues.
The donors also want to know how government plan to follow up the recommendations in the report by the presidential of July 20, 2011 events.
In the said list, the donors would like to know when actually the necessary changes will be made for the tripartite election elections in 2014 and whether government has considered political party financing legislation to increase political transparency.