ACB vows to prioritize addressing wildlife, forestry crimes
Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Martha Chizuma has said her leadership ACB will prioritize addressing cases of corruption linked with illegal trades in wildlife and forest products in the country.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of a 60-paged report that analyses the role of corruption in enabling wildlife and forest crime in Malawi which was recently held in Lilongwe, Chizuma said ACB combating corruption in wildlife and forestry sectors will be one of the priority areas.
“Combating corruption in the sectors of wildlife and forestry will be a key priority for ACB during my tenure. We cannot be bystanders to the destruction of our nation’s natural heritage which we rely for our prosperity and our very survival,” Chizuma said.
She added that ACB will not tolerate with anyone involved in corrupt practices regarding illegal trades in wildlife and forest products.
“Persons found responsible for corrupting public officers in the illegal trade of wildlife and forest products will be pursued vigorously and the proceeds of their crimes will be confiscated. Similarly, public officers involved in this illicit trade will not be spared either,” Chizuma said.
In his remark, Chairperson of the Natural Resources Parliamentary Committee, Werani Chilenga said there is a need to take serious measures in dealing with corruption crimes concerning illegal trades in wildlife and forest products.
“Corruption is a serious crime; we need to stamp out corruption throughout the chain, from the police officers who wave through the charcoal trucks through the roadblocks and the shipping agent who clears the container of ivory to the court clerk who alters paperwork,” Chilenga said.
Co-author of the newly launched report and Director for the Department of 1 Parks & Wildlife (DNPW), Brighton Kumchedwa said his department will closely work with ACB to make sure that the guidelines which are in the report should be initiated.
He added saying the illicit trades in products such as ivory, pangolin, and rhino horn are controlled by inter1 organized criminal syndicates who he said cannot operate without the support of corrupt individuals in the trafficking chain.
“Multi-agency collaboration is therefore key in disrupting such activity. As a department, we are fully committed to working together with the ACB to instigate the recommendations laid out in this report,” Kumchedwa explained.
Dr Clement Chilima who is also a co-author of the newly launched report and the Director of the Department of Forestry commented that the illicit charcoal trade has been of big concern, as it is driving the country’s rates of deforestation to catastrophic levels.
He commended the efforts of multiple government agencies like ACB and the police in protecting forests in the country.
“The Department of Forestry is similarly committed to supporting the recommendations of the newly launched report which is aiming at dealing with corruption connecting to illegal trade of forest products,” he said.