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Malawi’s New President Promises to Fight Corruption

  • James Butty

FILE - Newly elected Malawian president Peter Mutharika greets supporters after he was sworn in at the High Court in Blantyre, Malawi, May 31, 2014.

FILE - Newly elected Malawian president Peter Mutharika greets supporters after he was sworn in at the High Court in Blantyre, Malawi, May 31, 2014.

Malawi’s President, Peter Mutharika, said there will be no ‘sacred cows’ or ‘untouchables’ in his administration when it comes to fighting corruption.

Mutharika, who was elected last month in a controversial election, delivered his first state-of-the-nation speech Tuesday night. He said his government will have a ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption.

A $30-million corruption scandal called ‘cashgate’ marred the administration of Mutharika’s predecessor, Joyce Banda.

Billy Banda, executive director of Malawi Watch, an NGO that focuses on governance and economic issues in Malawi said those who plunder public coffers must be held accountable while they are in office, and even after they leave office.

“This country is endowed with a lot of natural wealth and there is a lot of plunder by people who are linked to public service. And what the president made very clear is that we must not be protecting somebody who has plundered the national wealth at the expense of every citizen,” he said.

While vowing there will be no ‘sacred cows’ in the fight against corruption, Mutharika did not say whether the former president might be prosecuted.

Billy Banda said Malawi’s newly-elected parliament must enact laws on presidential powers and immunity to ensure that whoever plunders public coffers will be held accountable.

“When one is plundering, those people, they must not be spared; they must also be made to account while still in office and also after they leave office. And, that is where the national assembly should be discussing the presidential powers, but also the immunity that the president enjoys, Banda said.

Mutharika pledged to adopt the same policies as his late brother, former President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Banda said the new president wants Malawians to enjoy the same economic success they relished during his late brother’s term.

“You may wish to notice that the first five years of the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika were remarkable in terms of economic recovery. And, on that note, the term of the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika was very remarkable and he’s (Peter Mutharika) trying to work on the path so that Malawi can regain the economic journey to take Malawi to prosperity,” Banda said.
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