Friday, March 18, 2016

The More Things Change...

It has not been a good for the governing Democratic Progressive Party administration.

In the end, the government side, which was supposed to behave as a warrior worth its salt by standing on the side of people, ended up creating the picture that it is a side that busies itself in shooting down worthwhile initiatives for the sake of maintaining the status quo.

Come to think of it. In fourteen days, the government side has put itself in an uncomfortable position by rejecting amendments to the Corrupt Practices Act; the President, who plays the cards in the ruling party, has refused to respond to questions from Members of Parliament in Parliament.

The only good news is that both ruling party and opposition Members of Parliament seem to agree with suggestions that the office of the Auditor General should be more independent than is the case now. But, again, the ruling party side sees uncomfortable with suggestions that the Auditor General should be appointed through the Public Appointments Committee.

However, since the issue of President Peter Mutharika refusing to appear before Parliament has been dealt with in previous posts, let us concentrate on the issue of the Corrupt Practices Act.

The Corrupt Practices Act has been at the centre of debate in Malawi for some time. There are two schools of though: one [school of thought] advances the argument that the Corrupt Practices Act is a blue-print watered down by Executive excesses, and; the other school of thought argues that the Corrupt Practices Act is okay in its current form.

Now, those who tow the first line argue that the Executive arm of the government is still very much in control of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, and calls the shorts when it comes to the Anti-Corruption Bureau's decision-making processes. They say the head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau is appointed by the President, which, in essence, makes them the President's Boy or Girl!

However, those who advance the second line of thinking argue that things are okay as they are, and they cite cases where serving government officials have faced the long hand of the law. A good case in point is that of former Cabinet minister, Yusuf Mwawa.

It seems like Lilongwe South West Member of Parliament, Peter Chakhwantha, is on the side of those who believe that the Anti-Corruption Bureau should not be tinted by the President's shenanigans. The legislator, therefore, wanted Parliament to amend Section 5 and Section 7 of the Corrupt Practices Act.

The sections in question gives the President the mandate to appoint the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Chakhwantha, like most of the opposition Members of Parliament, wants the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament to usurp that role. But that is not all theere is to the changes; Chakhwantha also wants transparency in coming up with names of those qualified to head the Anti-Corruption Bureau by advertising the post.

It did not come as a surprise to learn that, the amendments were shot down in the committee stage of the bill.

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