Malawi Heads of State hide in withering shade

It is not a surprise that during rainy season, wild animals come closer to villages. This is because they find shades to hide in most parts of the land even nearest people’s homes. They do enjoy the liberty of space and fresh air and food during this period but as soon as the rain seizes to water the plants where they find a shade, the choice is the victim of these animals that they end up being encroached in insecurity status if they don’t abandon the bare land and withering shade for a better one in river banks. If they are foolish enough and ignore daylight, they sell out their souls to the salivating poacher.

Though the father and founder of Malawi nation Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda was not trapped in a graft case, some allege that he left office worth MK22 billion when the strength of Malawi kwacha if I am not mistaken was almost 1:15 with US dollar. For the sake of records, in 1971, Malawi kwacha was trading at 2 kwacha to 1 pound which is now at around 1 Kwacha to around 667 pounds. Translating it to JB’s exchange rate, MK22 billion of 1994 is now MK660 billion. Are you shocked? Yes, that’s how devalued we have reached.

Bakili Muluzi tried to follow up Kamuzu’s worthy and without successfully prosecuting Kamuzu on amassing public funds, Bakili made sure that some of Kamuzu’s major estates such as Press Trust are confiscated and made them government owned. He also freezed his bank accounts but after years, the freezing was uplifted. The amount of worth Kamuzu had, was not known to Malawians until his shed withered in 1994.

Joyce Banda facing corruption scandal

The allegation about Kamuzu’s worth did not draw much attention of Malawians as compared to those of Bakili Muluzi and Bingu wa Mutharika. This is because before democracy, Malawians were not much interested in holding the government accountable. This was also attributed to low levels of corruption during that time and also most people were fearful of his autocratic way of leadership.

Today people are civilized and many have attained education and have realized that whatever affects the government affects the general public. This is the reason why today, people are so vigilant to whatever happens to public purse. President Joyce Banda had been resistant to declaring her assets until when MK61 billion allegations against Bingu came to public. When pressure mounted on Madam Banda, she sneaked her documents of wealthy declaration to the National Assembly speaker, Chimunthu Banda. However who knows how much Banda has declared?

What sense is there when one says “I have declared my assets when it remains a mystery to the public? One definition of declaring is “to announce publicly or officially”. When did Chimunthu Banda change his name to “Public” so that he becomes a representation of the public? Chimunthu Banda who is the head of legislature seems to be confused of the laws made by his own arm of government also. The Attorney General who should be an expert of laws is deliberately bringing in the issue of privacy to confuse laymen in law.

Should we say that those people who sat down to draft the constitution and put an element requiring the president to declare assets did not know about the privacy section? There are some people who have high public trust such as the president who holds public office and as such, their assets should not be private because they are paid by the public and the public has to hold them accountable. It is of the same reason that president’s trips of public interest are announced.

There is no privacy on president’s trips and meetings, we all know. It is in respect of the same that we are interested to know how much wealthy the president had before assuming office and will also be interested to know how much s/he has when leaving office. This is one way of being vigilant to public funds.

It is suspicious though, to see our president who claims to take a bold step in rooting looting in public offices to decline declaring her assets. Will we be wrong if we suspect that, the president is playing a hide and seek game in that she may be part of plundering? Madam, if you are really innocent, you lose nothing by declaring your assets. That way, we will have some trust that you are really geared to root out corruption for as of now, we can’t believe you if you don’t lead by example. You said that your accounts are open, isn’t declaring of your assets one way of proving your innocence? Are you conscience of amassing public funds also? Why are your hands tied, your ears deaf, and your month dump to declare assets? What is wrong with Malawian leaders? Who shall we trust? You are humble and look innocent and promising before getting the helm of power to seek public sympathy but once you are there, you become arrogant, selfish and autocratic, why?

After your resistance to declare assets, we hear that all the locks at the Capitol Hill were open for looting, what do you have to say in defence of you declining to declare assets in the midst of all these misfortunes? Instead of taking bold responsibility, you are busy shifting people’s attention to the party which is not in power. Do you want this party to take back government to correct their mistakes as you allege? We want you to clean up this mess without blame shifting because we know that such claims may be influenced and promoted by politics other than for the good of common citizen.

It should be emphasised that Malawian presidents just hide in the withering shade because as former heads of state’s misappropriation of funds were exposed after exist door, so shall the current one be. You may try to seal the loopholes using some people today but it’s the same people who will expose you tomorrow after someone becomes the first citizen. Help yourself by coming up clean now otherwise I am afraid, you are hiding in the withering shed and soon you will have nowhere to hide when a serious hunter starts hunting.

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