After all the speeches, colour and glamour at the commemoration of this year's National Anti-Corruption Day held in Mangochi, we remain unconvinced that there is progress in the fight against corruption in this country.
In its own speeches, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) smartly hinted at its failure in the fight against graft, admitting it is toothless in front of corrupt senior government officials. It said oftentimes whistleblowers are always afraid to testify against suspected corrupt officials which results in the bureau abandoning such cases.
Instead, the bureau has found it easy to target small fish in the pond namely police officers, traditional chiefs, and junior civil servants, who are quickly arrested, prosecuted, convicted, fined and jailed.
However, the big fish—the powerful civil servants and politicians—go scot free. If anything, they are only arrested and given bail, never to return to the court. If they return to court, it takes five years before they can even plead guilty or not. And even after doing so, it takes another three or four years before trial can begin. Is this what we call fighting corruption?
It is as if the three arms of government in this country—the executive, judiciary and Parliament—connived to frustrate efforts in fighting graft.
Yet, all multiparty presidents we have seen in this country seem to have mastered the art of rhetoric in fighting corruption, with negligible if any action at all on the ground.
Upon taking over office, for instance, President Joyce Banda made a budget speech in May last year that she had been informed that there was rampant fraud in so many government departments.
So she challenged controlling officers to report to her by June last year what action they would take to end the malpractices, but seven months down the line, we haven't heard anything.
And here we are with more rhetoric from Mangochi that she will not shield any sacred cows in the fight against corruption. It is hard to believe this will happen.
But she and her government need to go beyond rhetoric in fighting corruption. The judiciary and the legislature too ought to play their part by creating laws that are not merely academic, but that are effective in fighting corruption.
As of now, honestly we are fed up with the rhetoric. We have heard the pledges to fight corruption since 1994.