Cashgate: Golden opportunity for radical changes in Malawi

The much widely publicised looting of government coffers has become a marker differentiating a Malawian public services workforce from that of other countries. Noticeably, abuse of tax payers’ takings is so entrenched in governmental function that any leader endowed with emancipatory traits and in economic impoverishment will be subjected to temptations of making quick financial gains dubiously.

Given contemporary political chronicles in the run up to the tripartite elections in May 2014, it seems there is no escaping from this spiral of pseudo democratic tradition undergirded by values of pilferage, materialism, tribalism and jealousy.

We seem to ignore the divine gesture of willpower that defied the dominant values of paternalism and, unexpectedly and beyond men’s imagination, placed the woman at the core of politics and governance. The transference of political leadership sanctioned by divine forces was a necessary heavenly intrusion for it saved the nation from imminent economic collapse and return to autocracy. The only problem is that we, the people, are quick to forget then short lived misrule that almost brought the country to its knees. We have returned to our usual self of blind politicking, insular electioneering and tribal mind-sets.cash

Since the attainment of independence from the colonial masters, we have had a series of malfunctioning political traditions that are persistently promoting exploitation of the poor of the poorest. We have had a spiral of a malfunctioning democracy overseen by the political powers nominated by majoritarian decree, falsely, claiming to uphold values of emancipation and patriotism. We are now imprisoned in a morally depleted chapter of political schemes, consciously or unconsciously, yielding to the impulses of a few egoistic individuals entangled in contemptible economic pursuits.

The transformation from one party system has been distinctively identified with a game of numbers that has recycled and expended politicians taking overly dominant economic stake. Their constituents have opted to be palm oiled with ornamental outcomes in the form of hand-outs of livestock, shoes, coffins etc., thereby yielding to party-political actions that smack of false liberality. One aspect that has bolstered pluralistic governance, over the years, is the dubious accumulation of wealth by the power may be with the house of commotion (parliament) doing very little to question the status-quo.

Corruption as an abhorrence crippling our public service workforce remains a barrier to economic progress with triple social revulsions pushing ordinary Malawians to the peripheral of the contemporary pluralistic governance. Worryingly, the culprits in the Capital Hill scandal are learned Malawians who have abused their intellectual and professional integrity to create systemic loopholes. The much talked about direct public purse-snatching at Capital Hill is a mockery of our assertions of morality and humanness. Looting of this magnitude, as identified with the Capital Hill, is indicative of a wider systemic problem perpetrated by a workforce devoid of morality.

The Capital Hill cash-gate conundrum is indicative of an established machination to defraud the country of hard earned revenue and this has been going on for years as evinced by dubious wealth accumulated by political parties and sections of the public service workforce alike.

Over the years, politics has been projected as a lucrative enterprise and, there is a general national understanding that has defined our democracy whereby it has been an accepted tradition to use politics as a conduit for fast tracked financial gains.

 

The public service workforce has lost credibility and the mudslinging focussed on the incumbent discounts the fact that we have immorally driven systemic problem. Given the magnitude of reckless extravagance by the public workforce in entertainment circles, I would be tempted to ask fundamental questions about the enterprise feeding such bizarre behaviour. This behaviour is enough evidence of inherent moral dissipation prevalent in the public service workforce. It is the issue of professional fraudulence by those entrusted with the public purse.

Much as politicians have to take the blame for this mess, it is important to note that politicians are not technocrats. Their job is to issue policies trusting that the public services workforce will uphold its professional integrity in its use of financial resources. I assume the person chosen as a civil servant is neither an empty can nor a robot. It is a matter of principles that underpin the professional posturing of the employed and the hiring body is of less value if the chosen body is driven by moral values. Some soul searching questions would be helpful rather think any malpractice is of the leader’s making.

Labelling the incumbent as a sole rogue state actor is a case of missed golden opportunity to critically analyse the attitudes of the public workforce. As typified in the actions of the incumbent whereby governing party functionaries are bearing the brunt of the public indignation, it is common knowledge that dealing with this financial scandal risks political career of any leader.  Every Malawian, passionate about the values of patriotism should be worried as the results of the forensic audit of this financial rip-off could potentially dump the entire nation into a garbage can of rogue states.

Given the financial obscurity enveloping the warm heart of Africa, I am justified to argue that the public workforce needs reconfiguration to regain its professional and moral credibility. However, the reconstruction of the public service will not be achieved with outdated and recycled administrative and legislative workforce. It requires enforced fundamental changes in attitudes of public servants, ministers, parliamentarians and ultimately of the public.

As shown in the looting of government coffers, the culprits are personnel with their professional qualifications. Some may have gone through the corridors of highly rated academic establishments and they too are painted with a brush of moral turpitude, vileness or depravity. I guess it is time to get rid of insular workforce. It is that time we establish a permanent but independent panel to continuously review a web of outdated rules in areas of human resource, financial management and procurement, ensuring that whistle blowing policy is embedded in the public services workforce management.

We need to overhaul the entire gubernatorial system within which the president and his nominated subjects are mandated to govern the country. Over the years, we, effectively, removed autocratic leaders and simply maintained corrupt systems in government departments. What has conspicuously lacked in our new democracy is the tradition that seeks to question the answers that we get from those entrusted with public offices. The public service workforce has gone about doing business without proper controls and checks of the systems.  No one seems eager to pursue the path of ‘problem posing’ as foundational to protecting the moral integrity of the public service workforce.

How do we promote a ‘problem posing’ culture that preserves professional integrity in the public service workforce? The answer rests with a critically conscious voter. Given the status-quo filled with divisive politics, those with the desire to protect national interests must contemplate undertaking radical revolutionary actions.  The cash-gate scandal should give us impetus to consider a new activism in Malawi. Make no mistake; there are hidden voices of desperation and frustration which just need men and women of courage to translate their mantra into credible revolutionary agenda. Such voices of critical consciousness have emerged within the music industry. Artists in the likes of Ben Michael Mankhamba (http://www.malawi-music.com/component/muscol/B/183-ben-mankhamba-/210-ben-mankhamba-collection/1451-cashgate-ft-e-word/) and others have brought to our attention how looting has negatively impacted on the welfare of ordinary Malawian with the poor of the poorest helplessly tending to the dying relatives in an under resourced rural public health centre.

I am not talking about activism infiltrated by tribal and political undertones as espoused by some individualistic, opportunistic and self-serving human rights campaigners. Perhaps if the ‘born free’ of Kamuzu era would take charge of the transformative agenda and seek to present an honest interest in solving the prevailing social and economic problems.  Such a revolutionary agenda must seek to challenge the existing political offers and push for radical actions that transform the attitudes of both the politicians and the public service workforce. Our fight needs to take governance reforms to the doorsteps of self-promoting ‘fat-cats’ and the ‘wheel-dealers’ behind the scenes of political clout.

All this points to the fact that the born free generation needs to resurrect from slumber and take steps to come up with a credible revolutionary action. Somehow, we seem to have blended to an archaic social order prescribed by spent present-day political forces. Now it is time to act beyond verbalism. We need to have a credible revolutionary launch pad that will challenge the values of individualism, materialism and petty tribalism. The new revolutionary agenda should start with the critique that put individuality under the microscopic examination to necessitate a moral transformation at personal level.  Any proposed revolutionary agenda should start with creating intercultural alliances of critical transformation which transcend diverse political and tribal loyalties.

I am aware of the biggest challenge we face to reach out to hearts and minds of ordinary people who may struggle to grasp emancipatory ideas due to illiteracy and poverty. Worth noting, in this era of materialism and consumerism, is the risk that the alliance fashioned to undertake such a noble task will submit to devious tricks flagged up by the morally rotten political forces in power. Whatever radical agenda emerging from this financial clutter, we must seek to offer alternative solutions rather than fuel personal vendettas.

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