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Graft Whistleblowers Demand Protection

It is a valid concern - Chizuma It is a valid concern - Chizuma - internet pic

Nsanje corruption whistleblowers have demanded protection from law enforcers claiming they stopped reporting corruption cases for fear of retaliation.

One concerned citizen, Wongani Gwedera, claims some law enforcers expose whistleblowers thus discouraging them from reporting corruption cases.

“Previously I had courage to report cases but I stopped because authorities have been revealing our identities.

“They have to improve as they took an oath. As law enforcers they are not supposed to expose whistleblowers,” lamented Gwedera, who is based at the boma.

His concern was echoed by another citizen, Henry Zongoloti, from Ndenguma village under Traditional Authority Malemia.

“People could have information that some people are engaging in corrupt practices but they do not come out in the open and report.

“They will always say I do not want to be one of the witnesses in the court of law. So it’s an issue that we have here in Nsanje, we do not want to report,” explained Zongoloti.

He further told Zodiak Online, “I have been reporting corruption cases. I was working with the Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) and I am still working there on a part time basis.

“We had a project with Tiphedzane Community Support Organization through which we reported issues to do with drug pilferage and we were taking people to the police and they could answer cases.

“We faced a number of challenges. We were regarded as spies or law enforcers, we wanted them to be arrested. We wanted them to lose their jobs but some valued our work,” said Zongoloti.

He further dared the citizenry to take part in fighting the vice saying, “The government on its own cannot win the fight against corruption, it has to be a collective effort,” said Zongoloti.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency (CSAT) Executive Director Willy Kambwandira, faults the current whistleblowing policy. 

“They are genuine concerns and we shared these sentiments with relevant authorities to say apart from a limited platform for reporting corruption we have also noted that the whistleblowing policy does not really protect whistleblowers.

He added, “Again much as citizens are reporting there is no matching actions to ensure that these corruption cases are being prosecuted.

Kambwandira observed that this discourages citizens from reporting corruption cases suggesting that, “the whistleblower protection law should be revised to provide protection to the whistleblowers.

“I think we have seen some whistleblowers dying mysteriously for evidence. This is because the law does not adequately protect whistleblowers and again, we need matching actions in prosecuting corruption cases. I think at the moment we are not seeing that,” said Kambwandira.

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma, says, “It’s a valid concern indeed because some recent survey on the matter revealed that about 80% of people are scared to report corruption for fear of retaliation.

“We do have some protections of whistleblower in various pieces of legislation and also in Corrupt Practices Act. But we admit it is not enough.

“That is why the Bureau sought funding to initiate the process of developing the comprehensive whistleblower legislation, “explained Chizuma.

She told Zodiak Online today, Monday, that “we are hoping to complete this process by the end of next year.

“We managed to get some seed money from Chandler Foundation and the process of developing the law has now started by the Law Commission. We have also managed to secure some more funding from GIZ.

On prosecution of cases, the ACB Director General said, “prosecution does not involve the Bureau only. The courts have to be available and defense too. We try to push but ultimately it’s not only about us.”

In August this year, the ACB disclosed that it would probe allegations that some public officials at Nsanje district council benefitted from relief items meant for disaster survivors.

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