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More fire from Joyce Banda on corruption, but more action needed

Malawi President Joyce Banda said on Tuesday she will not tolerate corruption at any level and ordered that all corrupt public servants and those in the private sector “should be punished accordingly”.

The President has also said she will not allow people in the country to enrich themselves dubiously, warning that all the culprits will not be left scot-free.

Banda was speaking at the Mangochi old airstrip ground where she graced the commemoration of the ninth National Anti-Corruption Day which falls annually on February 5.

Said the President: “Let me make this very clear, here and now, that this President, standing before you, is determined to get to the bottom of corruption in this country.

“There will be no sacred cows; no protected species and no special ones. As for the bureau and the Auditor General, I want you to join me on this crusade to rid mother Malawi of this evil.”

The President said she is aware that Malawi continues to suffer from corruption in different ways — from high-level corruption to simple bribery.

Banda lamented that despite the country having a good legal system, it is sad that millions of kwacha continue to be lost through embezzlement, among other corrupt practices.

She said government will ensure that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and related institutions that fight corruption are well financed.

The President, however, appealed to the media to ensure balanced stories and avoid victimising the public in its endeavour.

Earlier, ACB director Judge Rezine Mzikamanda commended Nation Publications Limited (NPL) for its efforts in warning its staff against engaging in corrupt practices. He called on other media houses to emulate NPL’s initiative.

He also acknowledged that over the years, the bureau has successfully investigated corruption cases with the aid of well-investigated stories by the media.

A media representative in the National Integrity Committee (NIC), Patrick Semphere, said in his address that the media is playing an important role in the fight against corruption in the country.

Semphere, who is also chairperson of the Media Council of Malawi (MCM), said the National Anti-Corruption Strategy recognises the media as one of the eight pillars that will drive the fight against corruption in the country.

He appealed to government to review laws that impede effective journalism, saying there is need to fast-track the enactment of the long-overdue Access to Information Bill.

Semphere said another concern relates to the Corrupt Practices Act which provides for the protection of whistle-blowers, but only for whistle-blowers who give information to the ACB not those who confide in the media.

But Minister of Justice and Constitution Affairs Ralph Kasambara noted Semphere’s concern and, in his address, said no civil servant will be fired or punished for that. He assured that the Industrial Relations Court will come to their rescue if that were to happen.

He stated that in Malawi, freedom of the press is guaranteed by the ruling administration as it is enshrined in the Constitution.

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