Greater action to tackle corruption is critical for achievement of Malawi’s third Growth and Development Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals. This is because tackling corruption has a multiplier effect on the achievement of other development objectives.
For Malawi to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16.5 “to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms” the full commitment of public sector leaders and controlling officers is imperative.
A forum held on 30th October for Controlling Officers in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies emphasised their pivotal role in tackling public sector corruption, ensuring that public resources are used in a responsible and effective manner. The half- day forum was organised by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in conjunction with the Office of the President and Cabinet, with the support of the United Nations and the European Union.
In her first public address in Malawi, the newly-appointed Ambassador of the EU Delegation, Ms. Sandra Paesen acknowledged the institutions and policies in place, but expressed concern that indices on corruption perception are not moving in the right direction. She called on Controlling Officers to be a shining example to show that corruption has no place in their institutions “You hold the key within institutions and services to fight against impunity. You are the leaders … you set the tone on how well the job is done, your staff depends on you to show the way, to provide guidance, and to be a role model to follow.” She further referred to the important role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption by swiftly and thoroughly concluding cases in Court. And the Ambassador also emphasised the special responsibilities of the private sector regarding corruption in Malawi.
Speaking at the event, the Chief Secretary to the Government, Mr. Lloyd Muhara applauded the Anti-Corruption Bureau for their efforts in the fight against corruption in the country. He however expressed his concern on the increasing incidents of corruption in Government that continues to derail growth for the country. “Tackling corruption is not easy but it is doable. Fighting corruption is one of the top government priorities as it costs Malawi dearly, with effects of grand corruption such as ‘cash gate’ being felt to date”, said Mr. Muhara.
During the plenary, participating Controlling Officers provided insight on how they can take steps to strengthen Institutional Integrity Committees and tackle corruption in the public sector. Recommendations included the need for greater protection of whistle-blowers; awards for Institutions that excel in the right against corruption; and strengthening the feedback mechanism of the Anti-Corruption Bureau to encourage the public to report on corrupt cases.
“Corruption has many faces; and as we are driving the agenda of accountability, we need to uphold the principles of the public sector. As Controlling Officers, we need to make bold decisions and to stand up to what is right and properly advise our political bosses”, said the ACB Director, Reyneck Matemba.
The Forum was supported through the EU and UN funded Development Effectiveness and Accountability Programme, which has also supported the annual institutional performance assessments, where anti-corruption is one of the six evaluation criteria.