The K1.3 trillion national budget has been passed in parliament but on Thursday the opposition ganged up in parliament to demand answers from government the graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) needed funding from public coffers when it is incompetent.
The opposition parliamentarians accused the ACB of high favouritism, saying they choose to prosecute some cases whilst leaving out others depending on political influence.
Salima north west MP Jessie Kabwila wondered why the ACB is failing to bring to court cases of former Agriculture minister George Chaponda in the alleged maizegate, the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority K3 billion abuse of money, the alleged seven corrupt cabinet ministers in the infamous K577 billion cashgate.
“How do we pass the ACB budget when there are outstanding cases,” queried Kabwila as Chaponda, who was in the House when the issue was raised, just looked on without making any comment.
Dowa West MP Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi told minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu to convince the House why members of parliament should continue funding for the ACB incompetence.
This was after it was learnt that the graft busting body achieved little in prosecutions as only 37 cases were handled and did little on prevention of corruption and civic education as the ACB targeted 40, 000 people but only 16 000 people were reached.
Lilongwe Mpenu MP Makala Ngozo nearly caused a stir in the 193 strong House when he said most people indulged in corruption are educated, they have doctorate degrees including cabinet ministers seated on the front bench in the House.
Government chief whip Henry Mussa brought this to the attention of deputy speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje, saying this was against rules governing the House and demanded that Ngozo apologises and he withdraws statement.
However, Chilenje said the words should be deleted from Hansard, the daily recording book of events in the House.
The ACB has earmarked K288 million for prevention of corruption and civic education.
In response, minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu defended ACB on the outstanding cases, saying sometimes the factors that cause the slow pace of prosecution of cases are beyond ACB.
He said ACB works with other players in the prosecution of cases including the judiciary but was hopeful things would improve now with the new arrangement ACB has made with the judiciary.
“Sometimes we are too impatient that we do not allow our institutions to do their work,” said Tembenu.
He said he disagreed with sentiments from some opposition legislators who said ACB is incompetent, saying they are doing the best with limited resources and they always achieve the best.
“There are cases that they have concluded, there are cases that they are investigating so let us continue to fund the ACB,” he said.
The parliamentarians relented and passed the vote without problems.
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