Malawi’s President Bingu Wa Mutharika is reportedly upset and is challenging Berlin-based Transparency International to substantiate its findings that corruption is rampant in his country. In its latest corruption perceptions report, Transparency International identifies Malawi as a nation with widespread graft, saying its ranking has slipped.
President Mutharika also questions the methodology used by the corruption watchdog that led to its conclusions. Some Malawi political analysts say the president’s outburst is misplaced since he has done very little to fight graft as he promised.
Meanwhile, Malawi’s anti-corruption bureau says it has handled 900 graft cases in the last two years and has only managed to conclude 12 of them.
Political Science lecturer at Malawi’s Mzuzu University Noel Mbowela tells reporter Peter Clottey that the findings have become a rude awakening to President Mutharika.
“To me the challenge is more of a face saver in the sense that here we have a president who is working hard to build a good image for the country. And yet when he’s been confronted with a situation, which is real, he wouldn’t obviously take that. To a larger extent, the findings of Transparency International would be credible rather than what the president is saying,” Mbowela noted.
He says President Mutharika has not followed through on his two-year-old pledge to fight corruption.
“He has not done enough, and obviously that is why he’s been taken unawares by the Transparency International report. He hasn’t done enough in the sense that I think the campaign has been more theoretical than practical. We’ve had a lot of I’m going to arrest all the culprits who did this or that, but when you try to check what is happening on the ground, you see the kind of steps that have been taken are so pathetic so to say. A few arrests have been made, so surely there’s been little that has been done and there is more that needs to be done as of now,” he said.
Mbowela says rampant changes in the directorship of the Anti Corruption Bureau have not helped in the body’s mandate to fight graft.
“I think I would look at the periods that the directors have been in office. Before someone settles down to do something substantial and then to sit, that is the time that he is kicked out. And then to make matters worse, there has not been a proper hand over or transition from one director to the other. So, it’s like every time we have a new director, that new director has to start afresh, and it’s like moving back and forth and not making progress at all,” Mbowela pointed out.
He said winning the fight against corruption in the country would take not only good will, but also commitment on the part of those in power.
“Yes, I think it can be done with good will. But I think the problem is a vicious circle. You see Malawi politics is funny. Sometimes, whereby you have politicians who are in government, during the day they are fighting corruption, but at night they are having meetings with those who are supposed to be prosecuted. I mean they are talking to the very same people who are in the opposition and are trying to be brought to book… so we need to have a clear sense of direction in terms of having clear objectives as to how we are going to deal with the politicians who messed things around in the previous regime. We should not play double standards,” he said.