Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau says official graft continues to rise in the country, with complaints doubling in the past year. ACB Director Martha Chizuma, who took office in May, warns that if the trend continues, Malawi will never reach its development goals.
Chizuma was speaking Wednesday at the start of a two-day long national symposium aimed to find strategies of ending corruption in Malawi.
She told reporters it is worrying that people entrusted to fight corruption are those allowing it.
“Sad to say is that people who have put in positions of public trust and they are ones who are abusing that trust and are committing corrupt acts. The way they are doing it, is quite sophisticated,” said Chizuma.
She gave no further details as to which state institutions are committing corrupt acts, or what she meant by the corruption being “sophisticated.”
Chizuma said the complaints her bureau receives have almost doubled in the past year.
“When you look at the actual statistics that we have in the office, we see that between 2019/2020 [fiscal year], we had 650 complaints. But now you see that in 2020/2021 we have 1,200 complaints,” she said.
Chizuma warns if the trend continues Malawi will never reach its development goals.
“Corruption takes away money for roads, money for schools. So basically, what we are saying is that the money that we are stealing through corruption right now, are literally, the aspiration in 2063, the 10 year plan, the 2030 Sustainable Goals. They are literally stealing that,” she said.
President Lazarus Chakwera has long said his administration is committed to end corruption by arresting anyone involved.
In August, the ACB arrested three officials of the governing Tonse Alliance in connection with a fraudulent fuel supply contract at the National Oil Company.
Political analyst Vincent Kondowe told VOA that Chizuma’s statement shows the ACB is still struggling to bring corrupt officials under control.
“For me that is indicative that there is corruption happening in this government and she is finding it difficult to deal with it. Otherwise, I couldn’t have imagined that she could have complained about that. Because she has clearly indicated that there is gap between rhetoric and action,” he said.
Participants at this week’s conference discussed the need to implement new strategies. One idea is to establish courts specifically designed to prosecute cases of corruption.
Rudolf Schwenk is acting resident coordinator of the U.N. Development Program in Malawi.
“There is very good strategy has been designed. Behind all strategies, there has to be action. And there has to be genuine actions. So I do think there is hope for Malawi to have a more efficient governance mechanism it if takes concrete steps in the fight corruption in the country,” said Schwenk.
The symposium ended Thursday with a call to all stakeholders to take a leading role in the fight against corruption in the country.