Corruption has been singled out as a major setback in the protection of wildlife and National Parks and the fight against charcoal production in the country.
Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus on Natural Resources Chairperson Welani Chilenga made the remarks Monday afternoon in Lilongwe when Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) launched a report on Role of corruption in enabling wildlife and forest crime in Malawi. and review of charcoal refutations.
According to Chilenga, Police Officers who man roadblocks receive money from charcoal transporters to allow them pass the roadblock.
“Police Officers are very very corrupt. You will find that there is a lot of charcoal passing through roadblocks. It is available in town. One wonders how that charcoal passes through the roadblocks. The answer is corruption. They are given money and allow trucks to pass with charcoal through the roadblocks,” said Chilenga.
Chilenga further said the caucus the root cause of the problem by engaging the Ministry of Finance so that government should start putting much emphasis on issues to do with Forests, and the Ministry of Energy to reduce prices of electricity and gas so that people should stop relying on natural resources for cooking energy.
Chilenga also said he is optimistic that the launch will bring positive changes in the fight against charcoal production in the country.
Speaking with the media, Malawi Police Services Deputy Inspector General Marylene Yolamu said the fight against illegal charcoal production needs a holistic approach.
According to Yolamu, Police deployed officers to look into the roadblock issue to confiscate charcoal at the roadblocks.
“We deployed some Officers that are directly looking into the issue of roadblocks. What we want to see is that these offices become vibrant so that they can be proactive as well as reactive because for us to deal with the problem, we need to both deploy these strategies. As an organization, I think we have started doing the needful so that we arrest the issue of charcoal,” said Yolamu.
In her words, ACB Director General Martha Chizuma said the corruption grafting body will have eyes open to make sure that the problem is brought to an end.
Chizuma urged the citizenry to report to ACB any corruption case in the protection of wildlife and natural resources.
“There is a moral obligation within ACB and for every Malawian to ensure that all corruption cases within the sector are dealt with. As ACB, we will keep our eyes open. So long as we are tipped, so long as the issue is brought to our attention, and we believe there is merit in the allegations, then as ACB we will investigate and we will prosecute the individuals,” said Chizuma.
Malawi is losing a lot of forest cover every year as the demand for cooking energy is now increasing. Meanwhile, there have been calls from Civil Society Organizations to consider using alternative cooking energy such as gas, solar and modern cooking technologies.