Christmas &year-end reflection: Corruption is rampant in Malawi, sayeth a man of God

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth”

Reverend Levi Nyondo, the General Secretary of the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) is one of the many Malawian men and women of the collar, whose diligence in serving the Lord and the motherland makes many Christians and Malawians proud.

This reverend, like the Catholic Bishops, does not believe that turning a blind eye to wrongs and ills in our society, under the guise of “serving the government of the day” or “turning the other cheek” helps the government and our leaders in any way.

Neither does he subscribe to the flawed thinking that foreign prophets should be the first to warn our leaders in tongues and foreign accents; when he can locally, equally and directly deliver the message, in a local accent or vernacular.

True to form, the man of God was at it the other day. At the wrong end of his sermon, was this evil called corruption.

In the congregation was the Vice President Khumbo Kachali – a man who, if various stories going around Malawi and the Capital Hill are anything to go by, is up to his neck in graft, and his bank account suddenly fat, with graft.

Nyondo: Root out the evil, corruption

A word to the wise isn’t necessary…

Now, with your permission, I will digress, to set the context for this reflection. The good reverend’s sermon on this malaise, right in the face of the VP, reminded me of yet another Malawian, Garvey Karvei Esq, who is coincidentally my “Malawian of the Year 2012”for his fight single-handed exposures of corruption in Malawi in 2012.

I called him to get his reaction to Rev Nyondo’s sermon, find out how he is keeping, what his plans for the festive season are and to generally ask what he has been up to.

There can only be one GK…

As I write, Garvey Karvei (GK) is pursuing a hot lead; following a tip from a Capital Hill source that the Malawi Government has set aside $700,000 to purchase baton sticks to deal with the people who will heed CAMA and CONGOMA’s call to demonstrate in January.

I promise to return to this, but first let us get back to our reflection. And to do this reflection justice, we need to take a quick look at where we have come from.

In October 2010, the Catholic Bishops issued a prophetic letter titled “Signs of the Times” The letter celebrated the successes of the then DPP government and also lamented on its shortcomings.

Nothing tangible was done to address the shortcomings. If anything, the government became even more arrogant. As a result, some of the very issues raised by the Bishops were delivered in a 20 point petition that twenty Malawians sealed with their blood.

Ignoring godly admonition, culminated in a matchete dress rehearsal by the DPP Cadets on July 19th,, and the Malawi Police Service featured in the final act with live bullets.

Malawi lost twenty healthy youths.

Let us go further back in time. Other than these disturbances towards the later reign of Bingu wa Mutharika, and apart from the unrest necessitated by the third term bill during the Muluzi era, the last time Malawi bled was in 1992.

The catalyst that time was not the Catholic Bishops letter named “Living our Faith”, but rather the MCP’s ill-advised reaction to that letter. That letter, in all honesty, only called for introspection. But it was perceived as an enfrontery and its wisdom was rejected.

What followed, in short, is that the MCP is now more or less an opposition party “for life”.

I am aware that by now I have lost a few of you, but bear with me as I will now put it all this in context so that even the deafest and the most arrogant amongst us should take heed of Reverend Levi Nyondo’s admonition, repent and be saved.

Before I take my gloves off, let me put it on record that the Vice President, somewhat to his credit, welcomed the criticism.

But, as will be seen, welcoming criticism is one thing, and doing an honest self-assessment and “repenting to be saved” from the clutches of corruption is another. The later is much like a camel trying to pass through a needle’s eye.

Single sourcing of an order worth US$700,000….

As I intimated earlier, I talked – rather skyped and later exchanges emails – with my good friend Garvey Karvei to hear what he has made out of the baton sticks deal.

With his express permission, in bullet points, are the key issues:

.The Malawi Government awarded an order worth over $700,000 to a business man called known be the alias Big Bashir. This Big Bashir is a close friend of the Minister of Justice – Ralph Kasambara.

.The order, awarded when Ralph was doubling as Attorney General, is for the procurement of an unspecified number of baton sticks, for the Malawi Police Service (MPS) in anticipation of the planned January 2013 Malawi consumers’ mass action.

.The order was approved, at the behest of the Minister of Justice, by the Vice President Khumbo Kachali.

.According to the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP), this procurement is “way above the threshold within which a government department can undertake procurement without involving the ODPP”.

.“You may also wish to note that any institution has to seek this Office’s authority when it wants to single source. As such the MPS is supposed to seek this Office’s authority to single source this procurement,” says the written response from the ODPP to Garvey Karvei’s enquiry – which I have been privy to.

P.s. GK will expose all the trash formally, he only allowed me onto the tip of the iceberg. But nevertheless, there you have it. Big Bashir was awarded an order from the Malawi Government to deliver baton sticks worth US$700,000 without any tendering process at all.

A whooping US$700,000 down the drain from public coffers.

Sources say that if transparency had been in play, had there been an open tender, and had Malawi Government regulations been adhered to; the baton sticks should have cost about US$200,000.

That is: assuming that the baton sticks – whose purpose is to beat up people – were necessary, given the austerity measures and the famous ERP.

Counting the costs…

Doing simple math shows that this shady deal, without looking into the merits of purchasing baton sticks, will cost the Malawian tax-payer US$500,000 in corruption.

This US$500,000 will find its way into the pockets of a few greedy individuals as our hospitals operate without drugs, as teachers get their pay on the 60th, and as the ordinary man and woman dig deeper into their meagre resources – just to make ends meet.

This is not the first time, and will not be the last that the duet of Vice President Khumbo Kachali and the Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara are embroidered in corruption.

As exposed by the same Karvei, in June 2012 the two were at the centre of dubious payments made to various companies that in similar circumstances supplied cheap Chinese riot gear ordered by the previous government.

O magnify the Lord with me; and let us extol his name together….

In the light of the above – plus what Reverend Nyondo talked about, who in their right senses would have wanted to see Vice President Khumbo Kachali anywhere near the management of the 2014 General Elections?

The only thing that could stop him from influencing rigging of votes would be that he would too busy wheel-dealing with the procurement that any election entails.

For all we know, getting his hands into the Commission’s resources, given the 14.2 Billion Kwacha budget that the Chief Elections Officer announced recently, might as well have been the real reason he was being nudged in that direction.

The point is: like Reverend Levi Nyondo and more my good friend Garvey Karvei, I am slowly but surely learning not to put anything past Malawi leaders.

Epilogue:

Those with a biblical inclination, I would urge them to read Matthew 10:26. But even if you have no biblical inclination at all take this home: Malawi remains poor; not because of corrupt leaders, but because of you people who do nothing about it.

If you have something, talk to people who know their way about, like my man of the year Garvey Karvei on: [email protected]

When all has been said and done, we should however be thankful to the almighty for his mercies in the year 2012 and pray for more in years to come.

I wish all Malawians a merry Christmas, happy holidays and more importantly a blessed and Corruption-free new-year 2013.

Adieu.

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