Chilima suggests corruption act review at ACB: Reforms Report

Below is Vice President’s report on reforms meeting with ACB, Ombudsman and MLC. Dated, August 12, 2020.

Today I engaged three constitutional bodies to appreciate the reforms they have undertaken, possible challenges in implementation as well as plans for new reform areas.

First was the Ombudsman, Ms. Martha Chizuma, whose institution has repositioned itself not only as an investigator of cases of injustice but has also embarked on systemic investigations to remedy various injustices that Malawians are subjected to.

The Ombudsman has identified areas of legal reform, which if implemented would remove disparities which exist between the Republic Constitution and the Ombudsman Act as regards to mandate, function and enforcement of determinations.

During the same meeting, we also suggested for the Ombudsman to carry out a comprehensive review of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers to revive a moral ethical conduct being a precursor for efficient, effective and professional public service.

Overall, I have encouraged the office to remain strong and continue to carry out its mandate which is to represent the interests of Malawians by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration and violation of human rights, among others.

ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAU (ACB)

Later, I engaged Mr. Reyneck Matemba, Director General for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ABC). We discussed progress of the reforms that the bureau is undertaking as well as appreciate new reform areas that are aimed at making the graft busting body independent and effective.

From the start, I encouraged the bureau to come up with reforms that will indeed make them independent and effective in carrying out their work. I assured them that that is the wish of His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic. The President is committed to having an ACB that is apolitical and truly independent.

To this effect, we discussed a number of areas that need reforming, top on the agenda being the review and amendment of the Corrupt Practices Act. The review and the subsequent amendment will form the basis of making the bureau independent in its operations, enhanced asset recovery, and speeding up investigations and prosecutions.

In essence we discussed a number of issues to make ACB more effective with motivated staff who will not be worrying about political interference. It is high time we had an ACB that is supported by both political will and public will. For the public will, I told the Director General that they will have to earn it by being effective.

LAW COMMISSION

Wrapping up the day, I engaged Mrs. Rosemary Kanyuka, Commissioner for the Malawi Law Commission – an institution whose mandate is to review and make recommendations relating to the repeal and amendment of laws.

The Commission is working on two reform areas one of which is to reduce the law reform process to ensure speed and efficiency except for legislation that is contentious or sensitive that require wider consultations. The second reform area for the Law Commission focuses on institutional restructuring in a bid to avert the high attrition rate that the Commission has.

We will be engaging with the Ministry of Justice and other relevant stakeholders for a way forward on the matter as well as many other legislation amendment reforms raised by various Ministries and Departments to ensure that archaic laws do not hinder progress and service delivery.

Moving forward, a similar complaint that all the three constitutional bodies raised today was the issue of inadequate as well as delayed funding which they said heavily paralyse their operations. I assured them that the Ministry of Finance is working on funding modalities and very soon such issues will be a thing of the past.

Have a great evening. Keep safe, Covid 19 is real.

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