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Catholic Bishops in Malawi Call on Government to Protect Anti-Corruption Bureau Officials

Logo of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) have called on the government of the Southern African nation to beef up the security of the Director General (DG) and all employees of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

The call comes after a politician in Malawi accused ACB officials of allowing foreign agencies to dictate its operations in the prosecution of a British businessman.

On January 18, Politician Bon Kalindo gave ACB DG Martha Chizuma and Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda a week to provide Malawians with details of their joint investigation with Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) of Zuneth Sattar who has been accused of corrupt dealings in acquiring land.

The Malawian politician further said that by investigating Sattar alongside the NCA, the ACB provided Malawi’s security information to foreign nationals.

“We appeal to the Head of State, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the Vice President, Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima and all relevant State institutions and their Heads to ensure the security of the ACB staff; especially the Director General,” Catholic Bishops in Malawi say in a Wednesday, January 19 statement.

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The ECM members add that no Malawian “should be pressurized, intimidated or influenced by threats or any other means in the carrying out of their work for the good of the country.”

The Catholic Bishops also plead with Malawians to keep off cases which the ACB is investigating for the sake of building a “a more just and transparent Malawi.”

“Let no suspect, however powerful, wealthy or who their connections are, be shielded nor protected provided that he or she is given proper recourse to the legal processes of the courts,” they say.

The Catholic Church leaders also call on all State institutions that have been established for the good of the citizens of Malawi to “not become themselves agents of darkness by failing to defend and promote the common good.”

“Too often these institutions and individuals have betrayed the trust of the citizenry and acted in ways which have further embedded systematic corruption and frustrated the fight against it,” Catholic Bishops in Malawi say.

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They also call on the Judiciary, which they say has a key role in the fight against graft, to ensure that “cases regarding corruption are expedited and that everyone is seen to be treated fairly and similarly before the law.”

By treating all suspects in an equal manner, ECM members say, the public will have confidence that the Judiciary is playing its role in a constructive way in the fight against corruption.

The Catholic Bishops further urge the Judiciary to “avoid making suspicious judgements and pronouncements which are seen neither (to) be promoting justice nor fighting against corruption.”

They say, “Loss of public trust in law enforcement agents of the State to combat corruption fuels mob-justice and is a recipe for civil disorder.”

In their statement that has been signed by all Catholic Bishops in Malawi, ECM members appeal to the donor community to ensure that the ACB has sufficient resources especially considering the unprecedented fight against corruption.

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The Catholic Bishops also called upon the ECM Justice and Peace Commission and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) “to initiate a vigorous campaign among the general public to help end the practice of corruption and accepting this destructive cancer as part of life in Malawi.”

To the citizens of the landlocked Southern African nation, the Bishops say there is need to play their part in the fight against graft.

“One way of doing this is to stop fleecing politicians by endlessly demanding handouts from them during political rallies, funerals, fundraising activities, religious gatherings and many other occasions,” Catholic Bishops in Malawi say.

ECM members further encourage politicians in Malawi to “give to good causes only that which they can ordinarily afford and not suffer the unnecessary pain of giving in ways which are beyond their ordinary financial means.”