director general Martha Chizuma says Malawi’s political party funding system has given rise to “advance capture”.

Speaking at the two-day Dynamic Leaders and Gatekeepers Forum (DLGF) in Lilongwe yesterday, the ACB head said political parties are captured in advance by those who provide the funding such that, once in power, parties feel obliged to extend the favour to those donors and this is a cause for worry.

Chizuma: Corruption is a sin

She said most people who provide funding to political parties do so with an interest to benefit from public resources through the backdoor.

Said Chizuma: “The citizenry should take interest in those who provide support to political parties, which includes materials such as T-shirts and cloths, especially during campaign period.”

The forum attracted a diverse audience, ranging from businesspersons, public officials and political leaders who included Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa and Kamuzu Chibambo, who is one of the leaders in the Tonse Alliance.

In her presentation, Chizuma wondered why corruption is rampant in Malawi when almost 80 percent of the population claims to be Christian.

Mzikamanda: It is a timely discussion

“Corruption is a sin but why is it so rampant when almost 80 percent of the population is Christian?” she wondered.

One of the participants at the forum, Krishna Achuthan, who is Nation Publications Limited (NPL) director, described Chizuma as a “woman of substance” who deserves support.

Achuthan, while heaping praise on Chizuma for her courage and passion to fight corruption, asked if there is hope to eliminate graft in the country.

In her response Chizuma said there is hope and her approach is to deal with the current corruption before focusing on old cases.

She said: “We are dealing with both cases—new and old corruption cases. We have to balance. We are also dealing with new cases which have the deterrent effect which is crucial to bringing down corruption cases. With this approach, I believe, we will get there. There is hope, we will get there.”

Chizuma also stressed that there is need to depoliticise the fight against corruption because the effects of corruption affect all citizens.

“If DPP leaders commit corruption even DPP followers suffer. The same thing with Tonse Alliance. Thus, we should get to a place where regardless of our political parties we should all hate corruption,” she said.

The ACB head added that despite losing trust in many people, she has hope that corruption will be dealt with in the country.

She said what keeps her going against a strong force bent to bring her down is her “faith in God”.

Said Chizuma: “I still have a deep belief that God has a specific purpose for this country and it shall be fulfilled. What hurts me is that some of the people hurting this country are those who have benefitted from this country.

“I am a beneficiary of this country. My education has been sponsored by government through scholarships. And after all these benefits should I really abuse my position?”

Chizuma is publicly considered an Anti-Corruption Crusader.

When President Lazarus Chakwera appointed Chizuma as ACB director general in April last year, the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament rejected the move, but later bowed to public pressure and confirmed her in the position.

During the last press conference, President Chakwera stressed that he opted for Chizuma because she is a fighter.

Besides Chizuma, other speakers at the conference included Chief Justice Rezine Mzikamanda, who gave a keynote address, and DLGF founder Pastor Zacc Kawalala of Word Alive Ministries.

Reacting to Chizuma’s presentation on political party financing, Nankhumwa, who is also Democratic Progressive Party vice-president (South), said he agreed with Chizuma on the need to strengthen the law for political parties to disclose for their sources of funding.

“It was a wonderful presentation and I agree with her suggested solution that we need to make some amendments to the current law to improve on transparency in political party financing. It is true we have the law, but we need to strengthen it,” he said.

In his address during the opening of the forum on Friday night, Mzikamanda said turbulent times require transformative leadership; hence, the DLGF is timely as it will give participants an opportunity to reflect on how Malawi can surmount the current challenges, which include Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war impacts.

  • The Reconcilation Commission tasked with contacting renowned Afghan figures starts functioning
  • The commission’s operational strategy lacks clearity: Some politicans
  • The Reconciliation Commission could be a good opportunity for talks and empowerment of acting government: Richard Bennett
  • This commission is a disgrace to political figures: The Afghanistan National Resistance and Solvation Council
  • No one could threaten the people of Afghanistan in the name of resistance or any other pretexts: Mujahid
  • A grand meeting of renowned figures would be convened for the resolution of problems
  • A grand meeting would have a positive outcome when all Afghans see themselves representated: Experts
  • Any change in Afghanistan should be led by the people: 7-way meeting
  • The strategy for face covering (hijab) sparked positive and negative reactions
  • Twenty-one people were killed and 38 others injured in Afghanistan last week.

Casualties:

Twenty-one people were killed and 38 others injured, excluding casualties from natural disasters, in Afghanistan last week.

According to reports, six people were killed and 18 others injured in a bomb blast inside a mosque in Kabul last week.

Ten people were killed and 15 others injured in seprate blasts in northern Balkh province. Daesh claimed responsibility for the Balkh attacks.

Last week, two pople were wounded in a mortar shell blast in Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces. Two people were killed in security forces’ firing on a wedding procession in Nangarhar province.

A man was killed in Maidan Wardak province last week when one person was injured in Kabul.

Reports said unknown gunmen killed a woman in Faryab last week while security force killed three kidnappers during a raid in Parwan province.

During the previous week, 17 people had been killed and 16 others injured in Afghanistan.

Before the regime change last year, hundreds of people were killed and injured on a weekly basis in Afghanistan.

Reconcilation Commission

Some renowned Afghan figures and polticans in the past government had fled the country after the regime change. But the caretaker government approved in March the formation of a ‘Commission to Contact Afghan Figures in Foreign Countries for Reconcilaiton. Last week, this commission officillly started functioning by announcing its operational strategy.

The commission said it would pave the way for the return of all political and military Afghan personalities from foreigncountrie. After their return, nobody will hve the right of their arrest or detention.

Some political commentators welcomed the formation of the Reocncilaiton Commission. However, they said the strategy regarding the political future of these personalies lacked clarity and the gvenrment should provide more details in this regrd.

Last week, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Afghanistan Richard Bennett said the formation of the ‘Commission to Contact Afghan Politicla Figures in Foreign Countreis was an opportunity for talks and empowermentof the incumbent government

But the Afghanistan National Resistance and Solvation Council, in its first meeting in Turkey, opposed the Reconciliation Commission and asked the government to explore honest ways of resolving the conflict through an interim administration and elections. Key figures in the past government such as Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, Atta Mohmmad Noor, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Haji Mohaqiq and Mir Rahman Rahmani are part of this council.

Earlier, the Solvation Council had asked the caretaker government for talks and if dialogue did not work, they could choose military action.

But Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said no one would be allowed to threaten the people of Afghanistan in the name of resistance or on any other pretext.

He, however, explained the individuals involved in corruption for years had no place in the government and if they opted for military action, the authorities would move against them.

Grand meeting

According to a government source, a strategy was being devised to convene a grand meeting of renowned Afghan figures. Individuals from different parts of the country would be invited to the meeting.

Some experts said onvening of the grand meeting would a positive step if all Afghans saw themselves represented.

Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) leader Gulbadin Hekmatyar stressed the need for a grand national council with clear support from the masses to take the country out of the current political crisis.

Hekmatyar believed the implementation of the caretaker government’s strategy for reconciliation with its opponents was weak and difficult to enforce.

But the National Resistance and Solvation Council has termed convening of the grand meeting a symbolic move. In a statement, the council said the proposed gathering and return of Afghan perosnalities to the country was a disgrace to them and to the wisdom of society.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other top officials discussed revising stringent anti-epidemic restrictions during a meeting Sunday, state media reported, as they maintained a widely disputed claim that the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak is slowing.

The discussion at the North’s Politburo meeting suggests it will soon relax a set of draconian curbs imposed after its admission of the omicron outbreak this month out of concern about its food and economic situations.

Kim and other Politburo members “made a positive evaluation of the pandemic situation being controlled and improved across the country,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.

They also “examined the issue of effectively and quickly coordinating and enforcing the anti-epidemic regulations and guidelines given the current stable anti-epidemic situation,” KCNA said.

On Sunday, North Korea reported 89,500 more patients with fever symptoms, taking the country’s total to 3.4 million. It didn’t say whether there were additional deaths. The country’s latest death toll reported Friday was 69, setting its mortality rate at 0.002%, an extremely low count that no other country, including advanced economies, has reported in the fight against COVID-19.

Many outside experts say North Korea is clearly understating its fatality rate to prevent any political damage to Kim at home. They say North Korea should have suffered many more deaths because its 26 million people are largely unvaccinated against COVID-19 and it lacks the capacity to treat patients with critical conditions. Others suspect North Korea might have exaggerated its earlier fever cases to try to strengthen its internal control of its population.

Since its May 12 admission of the omicron outbreak, North Korea has only been announcing the number of patients with feverish symptoms daily, but not those with COVID-19, apparently because of a shortage of test kits to confirm coronavirus cases in large numbers.

But many outside health experts view most of the reported fever cases as COVID-19, saying North Korean authorities would know how to distinguish the symptoms from fevers caused by other prevalent infectious diseases.

The outbreak has forced North Korea to impose a nationwide lockdown, isolate all work and residential units from one another and ban region-to-region movements. The country still allows key agricultural, construction and other industrial activities, but the toughened restrictions have triggered worries about its food insecurity and a fragile economy already hit hard by pandemic-caused border shutdowns.

Some observers say North Korea will likely soon declare victory over COVID-19 and credit it to Kim’s leadership.

Yang Un-chul, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, said the North’s recently elevated restrictions must be dealing a serious blow to its coal, agricultural and other labor-intensive industrial sectors. But he said those difficulties won’t likely develop to a level that threatens Kim’s grip on power, as the COVID-19 outbreak and strengthened curbs have given him a chance to boost his control of his people.

The State Department stated Thursday that the US is “deeply disturbed” by the Iraqi Parliament’s passage of the legislation and noted that “in addition to jeopardizing freedom of expression and promoting an environment of anti-Semitism, this legislation stands in stark contrast to progress Iraq’s neighbors have made by building bridges and normalizing relations with Israel, creating new opportunities for people throughout the region.”

The US will “continue to be a strong and unwavering partner in supporting Israel, including as it expands ties with its neighbors in the pursuit of greater peace and prosperity for all,” the State Department stated.

Iraq has officially been at war with Israel since 1948.

The United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain shortly after it, announced in August 2020 the normalization of relations with Israel.

Sudan was next to announce the normalization of relations with Israel in October, Israel’s third peace treaty in two months.

Morocco was the fourth country to join the Abraham Accords with Israel. The two countries announced the normalization of relations in December 2020.

The Abraham Accords, the first pact between an Arab country and Israel in 25 years, is expected to lead to similar agreements with other Arab countries, possibly Oman or Saudi Arabia.

 

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