Members of Parliament give Anti-Corruption Bureau more powers

Members of Parliament Thursday passed the Corrupt Practices Act Amendment Bill which, if assented to by President Lazarus Chakwera will give the Anti-Corruption Bureau power to prosecute cases without obtaining consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions. Songwe decried that the plunder of public resources that has been going on in Malawi has…

Members of Parliament (MP) Thursday passed the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) Amendment Bill which, if assented to by President Lazarus Chakwera will give the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) power to prosecute cases without obtaining consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Tabling the bill, MP for Likoma Islands Constituency Ashems Songwe said the move will strengthen and enhance the independence of the ACB in the prosecution of cases, further enhancing accountability on all officers tasked with public prosecution.

Songwe decried that the plunder of public resources that has been going on in Malawi has deprived Malawians of basic social amenities such that Parliament was called to duty to seal the loopholes in the laws.

“As lawmakers, we have done a service to the nation and Malawians through their representatives have made their point very clear regarding the fight against corruption. Malawians have won today,” he said.

Songwe said contrary to the narrative allegedly being peddled by other quarters, the bill if assented to into law does not strip off the DPP of his overall prosecutorial authority provided for under Section 99 of the Constitution.

“Having an amended CPA does not bring any inconsistencies in the law, we are still retaining the supreme powers that the DPP has in which he has wide supervisory powers over prosecution in this country. We have dealt away with the unnecessary impediment to ACB’s independence,” Songwe added.

Government’s spokesperson on the bill Jacob Hara said the passing of the bill affirms the Tonse Alliance government’s resolve to fighting graft by among other things addressing the gaps in the laws through a comprehensive approach.

He disclosed that it is in such vein that government will also be bringing the Courts Act Amendment bill which is proposing for the establishment of the Financial Crimes Division of the High Court to ensure expedition in cases that the ACB will now be prosecuting.

“There are all sorts of ways of fight corruption in the country; that is why the President has time and again called for a comprehensive approach so that those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law do not find ways of evading the long arm of the law.

“We believe that this bill will go a long way in complementing government’s resolve in fighting corruption because the bill basically gives the ACB a little more authority and power,” Hara said.

Commenting on the matter, Executive Director of Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Willy Kambwandira said if assented into law, the amended CPA will go a long way in easing what he called the antagonism that has been there between the office of the DPP and the ACB.

“What is very crucial for us is stripping off Presidential powers to appoint and fire the ACB director general. Our politicians are very aware that this is the only game changer in corruption fight; hence, dodging and concentrating on petty issues within the law,” Kambwandira said.

Last week, Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo said there is need to tread carefully, arguing that amending the Act will mean also amending the Constitution to avoid inconsistencies.

At the National Anti- Corruption Conference in Blantyre on Monday, Chakwera spoke against ‘cherry picking’ in the review of the relevant laws developed to fight corruption.

The push for the CPA amendment became louder after DPP Steven Kayuni had withheld his consent for ACB to prosecute businessperson Zuneth Sattar’s purported agent Ashok Nair and others.

In his communication to the bureau, Kayuni asked for more details in a report through which ACB had sought the consent.

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