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The Youth and Corruption Fight

Corruption has been a parasite that has been eating too much into the country’s governance system for years in Malawi, a concern that seems to be a tall order to address.

It has found its way into both the public and private sector and among all ages in the society, that is including the youthful population in the country.

The National Corruption Strategy (NACS II) recognizes the role of citizens in fighting corruption, and this includes the youth “Who make up a significant proportion of the Malawi population and are widely recognized as the leaders of the future, while some among them are already assuming leadership positions. They have an important role to play in the implementation of this strategy by, among other things, demanding accountability of government officials, mobilizing to raise awareness about the high social costs of corruption and to develop and implement innovative initiatives to monitor the delivery of public services as well as expenditures of public funds”.

The Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says the country has been put into pillars “according to specific activities in support of NACS II according to their mandate, interests, skill sets and areas of expertise and aligned with the Strategic Goals, Objectives and Strategies laid forward in the NACS II” which the ACB says it expects that everyone takes part in fighting the corruption, including the youth.

The ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala says that there are many things that the youth can do, and that first and foremost is resisting corruption.

“Where someone is enticing them to take a bribe, they should resist. That is the very first step of stopping corruption. And then, they should report to the bureau, any suspicious activities that are related to corruption. Another thing is to denounce corruption because when you keep quiet, people may sometimes think that what is happening is good,”, said Ndala.

A social analyst Wonderful Mkhutche said he feels that Malawians should face the reality and accept that corruption is eating too much into what rightfully belongs to them, including the right to receiving every form of quality service delivery.

Mkhutche added that the youth especially should also realize that this should be reversed, and it is nobody but them that can do it in different possible ways.

“The youth in their majority have the power to make a society they would like to live in. For example, they can demonstrate against corruption, and even as individuals, stop corrupt practices regardless of whatever positions they hold in society, in order to do away with corruption”, said Mkhutche.

He added, “Specifically if the youth are not taking part in fighting corruption, what happens is that it robs them of their basic living. It is not a secret now that our national budget is lost to corruption, and what is contained in that budget is clean water, good roads, medicine when people seek medical attention. It entails that if corruption is not stopped, those basic needs will not go down to the common person on the ground”.

But unfortunately, it has been noted over time that the people that are most involved in corruption are the politically connected and hold powerful positions. Many therefore give up fighting because even reporting will not help.

On this, Mkhutche said, “Even if the youth take to the streets and demonstrate, even if it means removing certain people from certain positions, because if we give room to fate, it means we are giving room to corruption to continue growing and affect our lives. What we are lacking is the political organization, but in a democracy, it is the people who have the power”.

In the same vein, Center for Social Accountability and Transparency (CSAT) Executive Director Willy Kambwandira felt that for the youth to take part in fighting corruption, they need to be motivated, and that that can be made possible if cases that are reported are dealt with and justice delivered.

“If cases that are reported to the ACB are being addressed, prosecuted, concluded and justice is served on the citizens, it can work. But this is one of the elements that are lacking in our case. As a result, the youth are not motivated to even report, let alone take part. So, it is very important that the ACB and other governance and law enforcement agencies coordinate and take seriously reports brought by citizens”, he said.

A resident of Kaphiri in Lilongwe Nancy Maganga said that she grew up hearing about corruption but did not know what it really involves. She added that the time she attended a roadside awareness show about corruption, she realized that it is not easy, if not impossible, to fight corruption because she realized that it has made its way into the heart of the society, among the people in authority.

“During campaign period, alongside my fellow youths in our area, I received so many gifts. I did not think it as corruption. So many politicians gave the youth material favors in exchange for something a promise to vote for a certain candidate. I now realize that I had given away my right for the passing favors, and now we have roads that are in bad shape and shortage of medicine just to mention a few things, when I could use my voting right as a bargaining chip”, she said.

Both Mkhutche and Kambwandira agreed that Malawians, the youth, need a radical approach to dealing with corruption. They said that maybe it is high time that they started to getting organized and throng the courts to seek justice and also take to the streets to demand justice, until the leaders started to listen and effect change.

They said that the youth should get concerned when they hear that someone has stolen their money and demand accountability, adding that they cannot afford to have corruption cases in courts for over ten years.

The NACS II recognizes “the widespread understanding that corruption derails social and economic development, thereby negatively affecting the well-being of all people living in Malawi, and that eliminating corruption will therefore, free resources that can be channeled to the country’s development efforts”.

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