CSOs urge Malawi govt to go beyond rhetoric in tackling graft in contracting industry

The Open Contracting Multi Stakeholders Group (OC–MSG) has challenged the Tonse Alliance-led administration to go beyond the mere suspension of the awarding of contracts by ensuring that loopholes that facilitate the corruption in the contracting sector are sealed.

The OC–MSG emphasized that the fight against corruption will be meaningless if government does not address the root cause of the vice.

OC-MSG is an assemblage of stakeholders in Open Contracting, founded in 2018 by the civil society organisations (CSOs), Government, private sector, development partners, academic and research institutions and media with financial support from HIVOS through Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) seeking to improve disclosure of public contracting information, accountability and ultimately improved value for money from public contracting.

They told journalists in Lilongwe on Friday that while commending the newly inaugurated President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice President Saulosi Klaus Chilima for suspending forthwith the awarding of contract or commencement of performance for recently awarded contracts as announced on 1st July, 2020 by Chief Secretary to Government, the Tonse Alliance needs to decisively tackle corruption in the sector by identifying the gaps that have facilitated the proliferation of the vice over the years.

“Acknowledging revelations on authority that the Government of Malawi has lost trillions of kwachas in the last decade due to public procurement management deficits, we wish to appeal to the new government to deal with the loopholes that have led to the problem,” said the MSG chairperson Leon Matanda.

Matanda observed that majority of Malawians have now become aware that unless the nation is committed to fighting corruption, any regime would struggle to implement transformation strategies suitable to recover a failing economy, a collapsing agriculture sector, a nervous and volatile mining business, chaotic and disenfranchised public health, disjointed tourism industry, haphazard education system, demotivated and demoralized public service and poor access to desirous social services by vulnerable children, single mothers, helpless women and persons with disabilities.

He said Malawi, just like any other country on the planet, is faced with the challenge to protect people against the COVID-19 pandemic and all associated risks.

“The country deserves comprehensive preparedness and responses expedited and managed by duty bearers that are transparent, accountable to both financial and non-financial decision they make and willing to accept political diversity,” he said.

And in a statement read at the press briefing, the OC-MSG said it applauds the new government for the promise to immediately facilitate implementation of Access to Information Law, a good law that has been frustrated since its enactment in 2017, as this law will stimulate on the voluntary disclosure of public information.

The statement, which Matanda and MEJN acting executive director Bertha Phiri have signed, says by virtue of also elevating the status of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities tenets, Malawi is fundamentally on course to wage a solid war against corruption.

“The OC-MSG wishes to declare publicly, its unreserved support to the Government of Malawi for setting into motion, wheels of Public Reforms and further encourages the new dawn to expedite the stakeholder’s consultative process on seeking best practices in order for the initiatory cabinet and all levels of Government to achieve prudent use of public resources, addressing principles of transparency and accountability.

“As outlined in the above paragraphs 3 and 4, these intentions of Government resonate perfectly with core values to OC- MSG. This press statement therefore serves to extend an invitation to all partners in the public service, private sector, civil society sector, donor community and international development agencies, to throw their weight behind this timely developments, and request that you prevail to contribute towards enhancement of public procurement, and embrace good governance measures in Public Procurement to be exacted, in the best interest of the improving management of public resources,” reads the statement in part.

The OC-MSG has further committed to mobilize, coordinate and build the capacity of its members and other non-state actors, collectively to continue providing all the support, checks and balances for progressive realization of commitments the Government made in respect of Open Government Partnership (OGP) after joining it in 2013.

Source: NT《》RT

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