CONGOMA in collaboration with OXFAM organized a Civil Society consultation process to input into the review of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS). The Strategy which was developed and adopted in 2008 was meant to be reviewed in 2013 but did not happen. In view of the state of Corruption in Malawi, it has become of great importance for the Government through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to spearhead the review process of the NACS. Recognizing CONGOMAs role in the Civil Society space the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs approached CONGOMA to champion consultations for Civil Society.
Consequently, CONGOMA with financial support from OXFAM organized three regional meetings in the Southern Region on 14th March, Northern Region 17th March and in Central Region on 22nd March. The meetings which attracted over 220 CONGOMA members examined the current NACs and made recommendations. The review process used a participatory approach in mapping the key achievements of the Civil Society in the current NACS and discussing factors that enabled or constrained achievement of results in order to draw lessons for input into future activities.
Specific to Civil Society, NACS includes non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), community based organizations, anti-corruption clubs and any other legally registered “not for profit” organizations that are engaged in the delivery of social, economic, and human development services. These have the important role of safeguarding democracy by empowering people to actively participate in affairs of the state, and advocating for policy reforms or formulation. Given the role of effectively educating the masses; undertake campaigns on resisting, rejecting and reporting corrupt practices; lobby the Executive and the Legislature to create the legal frame for promoting transparency, integrity and accountability; monitor and evaluate activities of all three branches of Government; publicize as well as condemn corrupt practices through demonstrations and other acceptable activities; and demonstrate visible transparency and accountability in the way the CSOs conduct themselves. Further the CSO pillar is mandated to build its internal capacity to fight corruption by developing a Code of Conduct for the Civil Society, strengthening Civil Society through collaboration with ACB or any other relevant body to receive training on the Corrupt Practices Act and corruption in general and developing Civil Society Action Plan against corruption.
The participants commended the Civil Society as it has managed to sensitize their staff members on corruption, developed Codes of Conduct or Corruption and Fraud Prevention Policies and mainstreamed corruption prevention in their organizations. They indicated that the establishment and registration of the National Integrity Platform (NIP) is a land mark achievement of the civil society on the anti-corruption front. They also reported that many civil society players are involved in implementing governance programmes- such as PACENET, OXFAM, SAFE, CCJP, Tilitonse Fund, and Danish Church Aid. And some of the notable achievements included training of local councils and teachers on character development.
Nevertheless, the key issue was that there is need for strong political will to fight against corruption. The participants stressed that most CSOs fear to get involved in peaceful demonstrations because of the incident that happened on 20th July 2011 whereby demonstrators were killed by the police allegedly due executive orders that promoted a shoot to kill policy. On implementation of the NACS, the participants were of the view that the current NACS fall short of effective coordination of activities as the programmes are largely disjointed, without clear and effective coordination mechanisms. They also bemoaned limited resources that constrain the civil society in performing its function of educating the public. On the other hand, the other key issue highlighted is the culture of allowance syndrome that impede the implementation of anti-corruption activities. Additionally, the participants noted that the disbanding of CSAAC had a major impact on the implementation of activities under the NACS as it was the body that was entrusted with coordination of activities and monitoring among civil society organizations.
In addition to above the participants made effort to review the performance of other pillars. According to the findings of the consultation meetings, it was established that issues that affected the NACS implementation across the sectors as lack of political will to support the implementation of anti-corruption initiatives; lack of proper structures to coordinate the implementation of the NACS within and across the sectors/pillars; absence of an enabling environment for effective performance of governance institutions i.e. civil society, watchdog institutions and law enforcement; and CSOs’ and citizens’ fear of being shot and killed that made them shun peaceful demonstrations against corruption perpetrated by public officers.
Malawi developed its first National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) in 2008 after the Government declared Zero Tolerance against corruption in 2004 with the purpose of mainstreaming a holistic approach against corruption by creating an enabling environment for involving the public and the eight sectors of the Malawian society as pillars in the fight against corruption. The sectors were: 1) the Executive, 2) Legislature, 3) Judiciary, 4) Traditional Leaders, 5) Private Sector, 6) Faith Based Organizations, 7) Media and 8) Civil Society Organizations.