The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) – an association of Catholic Bishops in Malawi – has called on the government to seriously consider increasing the security of employees of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), especially the Chief Executive Officer (DG) Martha Chizuma.
The call comes amid threats by political activist Bon Kalindo to shut down ACB offices for allegedly allowing the international community to dictate its operations in pursuing cases involving businessman Zuneth Sattar.
Kalindo has joined a few local human rights activists who are standing up for Sattar and his Asian operatives. The others are Bright Kampaundi and Fryson Chodzi of the Forum for National Development (FND).
However, the Catholic Bishops, in their public statement issued on Wednesday, stress that “no one should be pressured, intimidated or influenced by threats or any other means in the performance of his work for the good of the country.”
“We plead, in the interest of building a fairer and more transparent Malawi that benefits all its citizens, that none of the investigations or matters dealt with by the ACB shall in any way be hindered or influenced. suspect, no matter how powerful, wealthy or who their connections are, to be protected or protected provided they are afforded an appropriate remedy in court,” the statement read.
The Bishops also challenged the Tonse Alliance government to relentlessly fight corruption, which they described as a cancer that is sadly entrenched in Malawi and is largely responsible for keeping the country very poor. and underdeveloped.
Corruption is responsible for the untold suffering of the vast majority of ordinary Malawians who face crushing poverty on a daily basis.
“Corruption is a very difficult vice to fight because it has taken deep root all over our country. And unfortunately, even many of those charged with fighting and eliminating corruption are too often sucked into it. But sometimes it There are people who risk everything in These are vivid examples of Saint Paul’s exhortation: “Do not take part in the fruitless works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11).
“Like most Malawians of good will and those who want to end the endemic corruption in our country, we sincerely applaud and support the efforts of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and its Director General, Ms. Martha Chizuma, for their bravery, professionalism and determination in the fight against corruption, especially as they have done in the past 6 months,” reads the statement, which all Catholic Bishops have signed.
They include Rev. Thomas Msusa – President and Archbishop of Blantyre, Rt. Rev. Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese, Rt. Rev. George Tambala of Lilongwe Archdiocese and Apostolic Administrator of Zomba Diocese, Rt. Rev. Montfort Stima of Diocese of Mangochi, Rt. Rev. John Ryan and Rt. Rev. Peter Chifukwa of Dedza Diocese.
The Bishops further appealed to the donor community to ensure that ACB has sufficient resources, especially given the unprecedented fight against corruption that the Office has waged over the past 6 last months.
They also call on the government not to allow the institutions of the state, which were ultimately created for the benefit of all Malawians and those charged with carrying out their purposes for the benefit of all, to themselves become agents of darkness. by failing to defend and promote the common good. .
Revered men of God observe that too often these institutions and individuals have betrayed the trust of citizens and acted in ways that have further entrenched systemic corruption and frustrated the fight against it.
“The judiciary has a key role to play in the fight against corruption. We call on the judiciary to ensure that cases of corruption are expedited and that everyone is seen to be treated fairly and equally under the law This builds public confidence that the judiciary is also playing its role constructively in the fight against corruption.
“Avoid making questionable judgments and statements that are not considered to promote justice or fight corruption. Loss of public confidence in state law enforcement officials to fight corruption fuels mob justice and is a recipe for civil disorder,” they say.
Further, the Bishops called on their ECM Justice and Peace Commission and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to launch a vigorous campaign among the general public to help end the practice of corruption and accept this destructive cancer as part of life in Malawi.
“We call on all citizens of Malawi to play their part, however insignificant it may seem, in the fight against corruption in our society. fundraising activities, religious gatherings and many other occasions.
“For their part, political leaders are encouraged to give to good causes only what they can normally afford and not to suffer unnecessarily from giving in a way that exceeds their ordinary financial means,” the statement concludes.