Malawi needs to establish a conducive environment instilling confidence in tackling corruption

EU  Ambassador to Malawi Rune Skinnebach

European Union (EU) Ambassador to Malawi Rune Skinnebach says although corruption cannot be completely eradicated, it wants to see progress in the fight against corruption in the country.

Speaking during an interface with the media on Thursday, he acknowledged the instability that surrounded the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in February this year and December last year which led to the arrest of its Director General Martha Chizuma; a development he described as somewhat worrisome.

He nonetheless noted that the graft busting body has been given funding coupled with new competencies which the Bureau equipped with in regard to prosecution.

In his State of the nation address, President Lazarus Chakwera indicated that ACB is a fully capacitated institution with hundreds of humans and billions of financial resources at its disposal, as well as greater operational freedom following the removal of the consent clause from the Corrupt Practices Act.

The EU Ambassador interacts with the press at his residence in Lilongwe

The EU envoy concurred on the other elements demonstrating some kind of progress but however noted that what is needed now are results.

“It’s true that the instability that surrounded the ACB last month or before was somewhat worrisome but it’s also true that there has been a resourcing, that there has been new competencies given to the ACB with regard to prosecution and there have been other elements that demonstrates some kind of progress or so; now we need results that a different matter.

“I think you need to move forward not for the donors sake; but I think it is absolutely crucial here in Malawi that we establish a climate together with development partners and government which is more conducive for business, which is more attractive for foreign direct investments, which is more satisfactory for the poor population who see the money they should have for health, for education, for other basic social services abused, stolen by people who are not entitled to that money. And therefore the fight against corruption is in the interest of everybody except for the few individuals who benefit from the corruption of course”.

During one of his assignments in Doha, President Lazarus Chakwera met the EU Commissioner for international partnerships Jutta Urpilainen as part of a series of high level meetings on resumption of budget support following her visit to Malawi last year in October.

Chakwera captured in Doha with EU Commissioner for International partnerships. Pic courtesy of State house press office 

The interface ignited talks on the possibility of launching budgetary support to Malawi and immediately upon her return to Brussels, she sent a technical mission in November to assess Malawi’s eligibility which followed a series of recommendations on where progress needs to be made to ensure this is realized.

Although he is yet to receive a report from the EU headquarters in Brussels, Skinnebach confirmed President Chakwera pushed for the budget support resumption.

He said the EU is a big and complicated organization hence it takes time to mobilize assistance.

The diplomat hinted that more technical assessments need to be done citing progress notably on the Public Finance Management Act and the macro economic situation to see if it is satisfactory and whether or not it complies with the expectations EU has for budget support to be the most effective instrument.