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Malawi President Strips VP’s Power After Corruption Allegations

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Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has suspended the powers of Vice President Saulos Chilima after the country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) accused Chilima of accepting kickbacks in return for government contracts.

The bureau’s findings come a month after Britain’s National Crime Agency showed that Chilima was on the list of Malawi government officials receiving kickbacks from British-Malawian businessman Zuneth Abdul Rashid Sattar.

Sattar was arrested in Britain last year for allegedly providing bribes to Malawi government officials to win contracts from Malawi’s police service, defense force and immigration department. Sattar denies the accusations.

In a televised address Tuesday, President Chakwera suspended the powers of Chilima, fired Malawi Police Service Inspector General George Kainja and suspended two other officials. He said the four are among 13 government officials the ACB found to have received money from Sattar between 2017 and 2021.

However, Chakwera said he could not fire or formally suspend Chilima because he has no constitutional authority to do so.

“The best I can do for now, which is what I have decided to do, is to withhold from his office any delegated duties while waiting for the bureau to substantiate its allegations against him,” Chakawera said, “and to make known its course of action in relation to such.”

The ACB investigation said 53 public officers and 31 individuals from the private sector, civic groups and the legal community also received money from Sattar between March and October last year.

Michael Kaiyatsa, executive director for the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, said findings confirm how deeply corruption is entrenched in Malawi.

“If you look at a report as presented by the State President, almost all the key government institutions have been mentioned,” Kaiyatsa said. “You talk of Malawi Police Service, MDF [Malawi Defense Force], Financial Intelligence Authority, the Ministry of Justice and even the State House.”

Chilima’s press aide, Pilirani Phiri, said Chilima will comment on the matter at an opportune time.

The United Transformation Movement, which also is Chilima’s political party, said in a statement it is shocked by the development. The party said it is reserving further comment until the matter is concluded.

Kaiyatsa said Chilima should have explained himself.

“His silence is not helping matters,” Kaiyatsa said. “It is actually worsening people’s perception of him. The public trust is not there anymore until he speaks up and tells us what he thinks.”

In the meantime, some analysts are pushing for the immediate resignations of all those implicated in the ACB probe to pave the way for smooth investigations.


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Corruption: Africa’s undeclared pandemic | Corruption

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On June 21, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera fired the country’s chief of police, suspended several senior government officials and also took the extraordinary step of stripping his deputy, Saulos Chilima, of all powers after they were accused of receiving kickbacks from UK-based businessman Zuneth Sattar in exchange for government contracts worth more than $150m.

While Chilima is the highest-ranking official in Malawi to be removed from power over alleged corruption to date, few were shocked by the accusations. After all, it was only in January that Chakwera had to dissolve the country’s cabinet after three prominent ministers – Lands Minister Kezzie Msukwa, Labour Minister Ken Kandodo and Energy Minister Newton Kambala – faced corruption charges.

Sadly, a corruption pandemic is raging in Malawi – and on the rest of the continent.

Indeed, from Malawi to South Africa and Zimbabwe, from Angola to Mozambique and Namibia, in countries across Africa high-ranking civil servants and their relatives, in cahoots with industry and business leaders, seem to have long been shamelessly stealing from the long-suffering masses.

South Africa, for instance, has recently been rocked by allegations that former President Jacob Zuma and a plethora of former ministers and CEOs of state-owned companies systematically planned and executed state capture to aid the wealthy Gupta family and line their pockets. On June 22, South Africa’s Chief Justice Raymond Zondo released the final instalment of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and found that the ruling African National Congress party, under Zuma, “permitted, supported and enabled corruption and state capture”. He also criticised current President Cyril Ramaphosa, who served as vice president under Zuma, for hesitating “to act with more urgency” to resist the emergence and establishment of state capture.

Beyond the Gupta scandal, South Africa is battling to recover millions of dollars it lost through dodgy contracts linked to the nationwide campaign to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

In Zimbabwe, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, a businessman allied to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, stands accused of amassing $90m through a shady central bank deal.

In Mozambique, ex-President Armando Guebuza’s son, Ndambi, former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, and several other senior governing party members stand accused of participating in the disappearance of loans – taken out to finance maritime surveillance, fishing, and shipyard projects – worth $2.2bn.

In Namibia, former Fisheries Minister Bernhardt Esau and former Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala stand accused of taking bribes worth millions of dollars from an Icelandic fishing company.

In Angola, Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former President José Eduardo dos Santos, is being accused of making billions of dollars through illicit activities.

The damage high-level and systemic corruption inflicts on already struggling African economies cannot be ignored or written off as normal or negligible. The illicit activities of elected officials, bureaucrats and industry leaders are leaving states unable to deliver the most basic services to their citizens.

Just last year, acting UN Resident Coordinator Rudolf Schwenk said Malawi is unable to provide its citizens with “effective healthcare, quality education, accessible justice and an accountable and responsive democracy” because of high levels of corruption.

South Africa, meanwhile, is experiencing rolling blackouts, largely because corruption and gross mismanagement have debilitated state utility Eskom. To make matters worse, the country is experiencing this lack of reliable energy amid an unemployment crisis – today, a record 7.9 million South Africans are believed to be jobless.

In addition to the localised corruption perpetrated through state-owned entities, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that Africa loses about $88.6bn, or 3.7 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), annually in illicit financial flows. This mammoth loss should not surprise anyone. After all, many countries topping Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, such as Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Chad, Burundi, Somalia, the Republic of the Congo and South Sudan are all in Africa.

Small wonder then that Africa’s youth are extremely worried about the deplorable and depreciating state of affairs on the continent. According to the Africa Youth Survey 2022 (PDF) published on June 14, Africa’s youths believe that the creation of “new, well-paying jobs” and “reducing government corruption” should be the continent’s two leading priorities. The survey interviewed young adults, many of whom are students, from 16 African countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Angola, Kenya, Gabon and Malawi.

Young people are clearly aware that corruption is perhaps Africa’s number one problem. But are the institutions tasked with moving the continent forward taking this devastating ailment as seriously as they should?

Well, they say that they do. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) have each established protocols on corruption.

The AU appears to be particularly proud of its anti-corruption efforts. It brags that its fight against corruption “has contributed significantly to the ongoing transformation of economies across the continent and reinforces the determination towards achieving inclusive and sustainable development as envisaged in Africa’s Agenda 2063”.

In reality, however, these institutions’ well-advertised efforts to fight corruption have hardly delivered any tangible gains. As the above examples well demonstrate, corruption is still as rife as ever on the continent.

The only thing that changed in recent years is the fact that, due to a public awakening about the harms of corruption, most African politicians are now feeling the need to announce their determination to fight corruption during their electoral campaigns.

These election promises, however, seldom transfer into action.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, for example, ran for office on an anti-corruption ticket in 2015, but Nigerians believe corruption has, in fact, mushroomed under his watch.

Similarly, Ramaphosa staked his presidential campaign in 2019 on a pledge to set South Africa on a path of renewal, transparency and accountability, but South Africans believe corruption has actually worsened under his management.

Like Buhari and Ramaphosa, Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption campaign in Zimbabwe has yielded meagre returns and he stands accused of “presiding over a dysfunctional government, a corrupt government”.

So while Africa’s leaders are undoubtedly talking the talk, they seem unable to walk the walk.

But after a pandemic that intensified existing economic struggles, and amid a major conflict in Europe threatening Africa’s food security, among many other challenges, the AU cannot continue its fight against corruption with empty platitudes and box-ticking exercises.

The body that is tasked with leading the continent towards better democratic governance and sustainable prosperity should accept before it is too late that there is a corruption pandemic under way in Africa, and the business-as-usual approach to battling it is proving mostly ineffective. Consequently, it must change tack and begin to systemically hold leaders accountable for their failure to stem government corruption.

The AU must establish credible continent-wide standards and independent surveillance mechanisms to advance the anti-corruption agenda, and implement them, vigorously, as a means to promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.

Eradicating corruption is not only essential to establishing firm adherence to the rule of law and political stability, but it is also critical to promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in countries such as Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa. It is time for the AU to assert its independence and demonstrate a strong, renewed and active commitment to mitigate the socioeconomic consequences of bad leadership in Africa.

If it does not take swift action to end corruption, economies across the continent may soon fall victim to this undeclared but devastatingly deadly pandemic.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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Makau Mutua lied that DP Ruto’s manifesto does not address corruption » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya July 2 – A day after Deputy President William Ruto launched his manifesto for the Kenya Kwanza coalition ahead of the August 9 presidential election, he was criticised for not stating ways his government will fight corruption.

One of the critics was Prof. Makau Mutua, the Spokesperson for the Raila Odinga Campaign Secretariat. Odinga is Ruto’s main competitor vying for the presidency under the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya alliance while Ruto is vying under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.

According to Prof. Mutua, “the word corruption was not mentioned and did not cross Ruto’s lips even once” while unveiling his manifesto.

“Like the plague, Mr Ruto completely avoided any mention of the word [corruption]. We know why,” Prof Makau said in a statement titled “Uda’s lofty and empty promises.”

But a quick fact check by Capital FM has established that Ruto’s manifesto indeed addresses corruption and ways his government if he wins the presidency, will address corruption.

On page 59 of the manifesto, under Kenya Kwanza’s manifesto, it speaks of “Ending the weaponization and politicization of the anti-corruption efforts by allowing the relevant institutions to freely exercise the independence given to them by the constitution.”
It also pledges to “grant financial independence to the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) and the police to prevent their reliance on the President’s Office”

And on page 61 with the sub title “Ending state capture”, the manifesto pledges to “granting independence to institutions involved in the fight against corruption, thus ending the weaponization and politicization of their work.”

Contrary to Prof. Makau’s statement, Ruto indeed spoke about corruption extensively while answering questions after presenting his manifesto during the Thursday night launch at the Kasarani stadium.

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[Capital FM will continue fact-checking political statements from all leaders so as to enlighten the public].

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2021 was the deadliest for migrants crossing the border, human rights group says

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TIJUANA (Border Report) — Last year became the deadliest for people trying to cross the border into the United States, with 555 perishing along waterways, deserts or while being trafficked in trucks or shipping containers.

“These are deaths registered by the Border Patrol,” said José Luis Pérez Canchola, head of Mexico’s Human Rights Academy.

He added that on a daily basis, there are trailers hauling migrants throughout Mexico like the one in which 53 migrants died after being trapped in San Antonio.

“This is also due to police corruption that allows this type of phenomenon to exist,” said Pérez Canchola. “The biggest risk for migrants is falling in the hands of organized crime that goes well beyond human trafficking that are tied to drug smuggling.”

Pérez Canchola stated that more and more, drug cartels have been turning their attention to human trafficking, charging smugglers hefty fees for the rights to move migrants around Mexico, along the border and into the U.S.

“What happened in Texas is a reflection of this trend we’ve suggested since the start of these caravans,” he said. “That (cartels give) them permission to work in Mexico as they head north across the country, this way they don’t have to deal with criminal organizations.”

“… It’s newsworthy because of the number of people involved,” Pérez Canchola said. “But this happens all the time, it’s recurring, bodies frequently are found along the Rio Grande, in the deserts, migrants die due to heat stroke, in the mountains, it’s common for migrants to die after being bitten by rattlesnakes.”

Statistics provided by Pérez Canchola and Mexico’s Human Rights Academy don’t coincide with figures provided by the International Organization for Migration, which is part of the United Nations.

It says “at least 650 migrants died while crossing the United States-Mexico border in 2021.”

Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. also tracks migrant deaths along the southern border.

“The border is more closed down now than almost any time in history,” Allison Norris, the supervising attorney for immigration legal services for the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNN. “This has led folks to increasingly seek out smugglers and engage in more dangerous ways of getting across the border.”

Official numbers from CBP show there were 557 deaths recorded along the border during its fiscal 2021 year, up from 254 deaths in 2020 and 300 in 2019.

CBP also reports Border Patrol agents conducted 12,854 rescues in fiscal year 2021.

The previous high for migrant rescues was 5,335 in 2019


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