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Investigative Journalism, a weapon against corruption

nvestigative
Journalism
popularly known as IJ in
journalism class can be a
sharp weapon to fight against
corruption on public expenditure.
IJ refers to the divulging of
matters that are obscured either
consciously by someone in a
position of power or accidentally,
behind a chaotic mass of facts and
circumstances-and the scrutiny
and revelation of all relevant facts
into public sphere.
IJ remains a strong force in
society and one of the most
important contributions that the
press makes to democracy. IJ, if
it is applied with dedication and
patience, sweeps mismanagement
of public funds by duty-bearers
in society. Yes, people who are
entrusted with responsibility to
use public resources do their job
with caution for fear of being
investigated and exposed.
Across the world, IJ has
changed things for the better by
exposing dirty deals. In some
countries, IJ has led to resignation
of leaders from top positions in
society. For instance, journalists
in Washington in United State
of America (USA) used IJ skills
to pursue the clues left at a petty
burglary in the Watergate office
building, following them all the

with DYSON MTHAWANJI and YASINTA CHIUTSA MPANGO


way to the White House. The
reportage led to congressional
investigations and the ultimate
resignation of USA President
Richard Nixon.
The performance of the press
during Watergate scandal was
held as the mirror that reflected
the best that IJ could offer to
democracy:
holding
power
accountable. IJ became a trend
in American newsrooms. The
profession enjoyed high credibility
in the years that followed, and a
remarkable increase in journalism
school enrollment occurred.
Back home, memories are still
fresh on how IJ helped to expose
the enormous plunder of public
funds dubbed Cashgate at Capital
Hill. The journalists went deeper
to track how public resources
ended up in pockets of some
government officials, politicians
and business people who did

not work or supply anything to


government to get paid from
public coffers. Journalists did a
good job by not only exposing
filthy deals and bad boys but
also bringing a human face to the
stories. They used their IJ skills
to report on what the plundered
funds could do to the poor mother
in Phalombe, Nsanje, Mchinji or
Rumphi.
IJ publicizes information about
wrongdoing that affects the public
interest. Denunciations result
from the work of reporters rather
than from information leaked to
newsrooms.
The power of IJ in cashgate
scandal in Malawi brought waves
of fear among public officials in
as far as corruption is concerned.
Absolutely, it has deterred some
crooked public officials from
proceeding with plundering of
public funds which are supposed

to develop our poverty-stricken


communities.
Many journalists working at
district level in community media
houses may think IJ stories can
be pursued at national level only.
This is not true. The community
radio stations have great potential
of producing good investigated
stories at district level because
they live and work close to the
implementation of projects in
which public funds are pumped.
Recently, Actionaid Malawi in
conjunction with Civil Society
Agriculture Network (Cisanet)
with funding from European
Union (EU) conducted a media
training workshop at Mponela in
Dowa. This workshop was part of
the three year project Enhancing
citizens participation in budget
tracking and monitoring for
equitable
and
sustainable
development in Malawi which
is being implemented in four
districts namely Rumphi, Mchinji,
Nsanje and Phalombe.
Apart from national media
houses,
community
radio
stations from the four districts
were invited and attended the
workshop. This will help them
to narrow down the IJ knowledge
to purse investigative stories at
district level.

Feedback: mthawanjid@gmail.com / tiwonge.kumwenda@actionaid .org / emuwamba@gmail.com

The facilitator on IJ during


the training workshop, a
communications expert
and
journalist with 17 years of
practice
Wisdom
Nelson
Chimgwede from
ConCom
PR and Publicity said IJ is
an important weapon that
reporters should use to expose
mismanagement
of
public
funds by duty-bearers so that
it should deter the would be
offenders.
The more the journalists
investigate and expose bad
boys in society, the more the
public expenditure will meet its
intended purpose.
Chimgwede
advised
the
journalists to read a lot and
understand
various
systems
of governance, budgeting and
development
implementation
for them to successfully write
fully baked investigative stories
that will lead to corruptionfree expenditure of public
funds. Read everything to be
knowledgeable so that you can
produce stories with facts, he
said.
It is the wish of Actionaid
Malawi, Cisanet and EU to see
more journalists pursuing more
investigative stories on public
expenditure. n