Mr. Francis Tepeka currently works as the Deputy of the Malawi Revenue Authority’s (MRA) internal affairs unit, where he detects and investigates fraud by MRA employees. Legal cases are then built against offenders for subsequent prosecution. Mr. Tepeka is familiar with Malawi’s social and political realities, including its corruption. Through experience, including his time at the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), he has an understanding of how corruption works and how to fight it. His goal - to understand anti-corruption best practices and extend his network - made Mr. Tepeka an ideal candidate for the August 2019 IVLP program, Transparency and Accountability in Government administered by World Learning.
During his time in the U.S., Mr. Tepeka examined the effect of transparency on trade, investment, and economic development, addressed international efforts to strengthen the integrity of governments and businesses, and explored the mechanisms that enable citizens to foster good governance, ethical standards, and accountability at the local, state, and federal levels. His group met with a variety of professional resources including the Utah State Legislature, the Independent Legislative Ethics Commission, Utah Moms Demand Action, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and the Office of the Utah State Auditor.
Mr. Tepeka’s group had the opportunity to meet with Salt Lake County Clerk, Sherry Swenson, to discuss how the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office ensures fair and honest elections. The group also learned about educational and outreach initiatives designed to encourage citizens’ participation in elections, after which they received a tour of the ballot facilities to get a firsthand view of ballot processing.
Another memorable moment of Mr. Tepeka’s trip was a trip to the Great Salt Lake. Group members travelled to a lookout site where they were able to peer out at the largest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere.
Since his trip to the U.S., Mr. Tepeka reports that his understanding and cause of his work have been uplifted. Today, he networks with more people, openly shares his thoughts at public events, and even works to pass laws based on the democratic values he learned in Utah. Mr. Tepaka shares, “I am currently working on a lifestyle audit project to ensure accountability in our revenue collection administration.” He also, “intends to lobby the [Malawi] legislature to pass legislation” that will ensure that “ill-gotten assets can be recovered.”
As is the case for many IVLP alumni, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has limited Mr. Tepeka’s ability to pursue his plans following his trip to the U.S. As a fraud investigator and lawyer, Mr. Tepeka explains, “COVID-19 has had a big impact in my work as it involves travelling which is restricted at the moment.” The sudden onset of the pandemic required Mr. Tepeka to learn “the skills as the story of the pandemic unfolded.”
While COVID-19 has complicated the goals of our many alumni, we hold a deep gratitude to those alumni who continue to apply the skills they learned in Utah to foster citizen diplomacy in their own countries. Thank you to the essential government officials, like Mr. Tepeka, who continue to promote transparency and accountability in order to protect justice.