Ntata’s Uncommon Sense: The appetising calabash that is Malawi’s public funds

There is no longer any doubt in the mind of the thinking Malawian that for over fifty years, a very select few have been drinking and getting intoxicated from the appetizing calabash that is Malawi’s public funds, at the expense of Malawi’s most vulnerable and helpless citizens.



In the wake of the MK577 billion Cashgate scandal, that is the subject of the latest audit of government, and all the other “Cashgates”, it is as clear as daylight that there are two urgent issues that Malawians need vigilantly to address if the country is to come out of its 50 year long economic predicament.

Before discussing the issues that need to be addressed, however, it is important to first zero in on the nature and extent of the problem. What we have here is an age-old problem of stealing public funds.

The appetizing nature of this particular calabash comes from the mentality of Malawians working in government that this is a calabash of funds that are without an owner; orphaned funds there for the taking, accessible to anyone with the know-how. From the dawn of independence, all the way through the coming of our so-called multiparty democracy to the present, what we have witnessed are the invariable overnight rags to riches stories of those that go into government, in spite of the fact that government salaries in Malawi are the some of the lowest in the world.

It is not necessary anymore to guess why people clamor for low-paying government jobs and why almost immediately after getting into government, new houses are built, new cars bought and new fat bank accounts opened. All this comes from helping oneself from the relatively unattended and readily available public funds calabash. What we have witnessed are politicians who are crusaders for accountability when out of government, only to shackle and hamstring all accountability institutions such as the ACB and the police once they get into government, getting themselves drunk on this appetizing calabash.

The additional upshot of this political and governance framework, besides upsetting the social fabric in favour of the very few, is that there are never in the public coffers any funds to do any of the things that political parties promise in their highly idealistic and unrealistic manifestos. Drunk on appropriating for themselves taxpayer funds, one administration after another decide that the solution for the future of Malawi is to charge for everything.

And so we see hikes in taxes, we see hikes in school fees and we see suggestions to start charging for medical care and almost everything else that the government is supposed to provide for the people from the taxes it collects. I have heard many learned colleagues speak about the virtues and the merits of the argument that fees need to be high, and that people should pay for medical care. The arguments seem sound, but only because these sycophants forget that Malawians are already paying some of the highest taxes in the world. The bootlicker scholars never pause to wonder and question where all the funds collected through taxes are going so that the citizen, after being taxed so heavily, should also have to pay tolls on the roads, buy his medical care and have to pay through the nose for the education of his children.

Perhaps these arguments would make better sense if there were any projects the government could point to as having come from taxpayer funds, not the Chinese grants and donor aid money. No leader should justify charging people for anything at all when all he is doing with the money is appropriating for himself and his cronies.

And so to the two urgent points that as Malawians we need to think very carefully about. First, as Malawians, we need to face the issue squarely and soberly and realize that party politics as it presents itself now has failed the country. We must accept that our situation will remain hopeless until we get out of the comfort zone of thinking only of self and begin thinking about future generations. We are guilty of passivity, complacency and excessive tolerance that borders on stupidity. We allow people suspected of stealing billions of our money to be in cabinet, to ride limousines and stay in houses paid for by our money and we stand and clap and praise when they do this, instead of throwing eggs at them and demanding that they should go to prison.

Secondly, having taken stock of the travesty that is being carried on with impunity in this country, we need to accept that the responsibility is upon us to join hands, go to capital hill and read to the culprits the riot act. This country will not turn from the path of destruction without drastic measures by its citizens.

Our selfish tendency of thinking that as long as we have a job and are comfortable for the time being then these issues do not concern us, or that someone else should do it but not us, needs to be checked and overcome. The country is facing a serious threat.

There are enemies within bent on destroying all that we call comfort. It is up to every Malawian to stand up and tell Mutharika and all these politicians to stop messing with our children’s future. Malawi’s public funds are not orphaned funds, they are owned by us, citizens. These funds are being stolen. We need to get our funds, and our country back. And it is now clear that this will not be a fight in the papers or social media.  The arena for this war will have to be at parliament, at capital hill and in administrative locations across the country. Did you think you could stop a man drunk on your appetizing calabash, and determined to continue stealing, by appealing to his logic and reasonableness?

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6 thoughts on “Ntata’s Uncommon Sense: The appetising calabash that is Malawi’s public funds”

  1. Dengu says:

    Well said.

  2. Zakatangale Tatopa Nazo says:

    Ntata you are now my replacement for ada Kasambara. I love you! Mutharika Must Fall! We will meet on the street Mr. Dausi! Mwationongera dziko lathu lokoma la Malawi.

  3. Dave says:

    Well written Allan, very well indeed. I can’t agree with u more. But like someone else has said, were u able to see these things when u were in govt? Were u? Why then didnt u speak out like u do now? That aside, your article is very beautiful. But in Mw we the citizens have this old Kamuzu mentality that our president and leaders own the country. It’s their property. If govt builds this, constructs that, “Angwazi atimangira chakutichakuti” and we go about thanking him “ANgwazi zikomo kwambiri mwatimangira mseu, chipatala, etc” Thats what we think. It is like he has taken money from his pocket and build that thing for us. So when he takes this same money and buys himself mansions, hotels abroad, stuffs it in Swiss accounts, it’s okey with us because it is his money. That’s the mentality we used to have with Kamuzu and we still have it now. Kamuzu owned everything including the women. This thinking has crept its way into the multiparty govts that have followed. Thats why we want to call all our presidents “Ngwazi”. What we need to do is to STOP thinking that the president and his cohorts own the country. We own it!!!! We pay taxes so that this country can run. Our taxes should help build our coiuntry not these leaders to build their mansions. We put these leaders into these positions (or they stole their way into positions) so that they run the country on our behalf and we pay them a salary for doing that!! They are not doing us any favours if they bring develop[ment to our villages. They are just doing a job which we pay them to do. They don’t take money from their pockets to give us development. They use our own money! We have to realise that our country is not moving forward not because we are poor or don’t have mines. It is because our politicians squander the little money we have on themselves. It is not because we are landlocked and have no sea ports. Is Zambia not landlocked? Is Zim not landlocked? Is Botsw not landlocked? Is Rwanda not landlocked? And Rwanda was at war and genocide for a long time but they have free wi-fi in the streets of Kigali!!!!! Why are we the only ones lagging behind? We are not even stagnant (coz I would rather prefer to be stagnant) but we are actually moving backwards for Gods sake!!!!!

  4. Bolingo says:

    This an excellent analysis of the dire situation in which we find ourselves. It is also a call to action. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

  5. Chititimbe says:

    Allan, though I don’t like pompus boys like you, but I agree with on many points raised in your article.

    “It is not necessary anymore to guess why people clamor for low-paying government jobs…”
    This quote is saying a lot about you, Allan. You once clamor for these low-paying government jobs and indeed you got one. Now I know why you accepted such a low-paying government job. Probably this is the same reason you have been fighting for one more low-paying government job. But thanks for being honest and indeed I agree with you, it is not surprising to see people scrambling for the position of civil servant today.

    Another memorable quote is this one: “What we have witnessed are politicians who are crusaders for accountability when out of government,…” Wow! Like I have already said, this article speaks volumes about you Allan. How I wish we could go back in time and watch one Allan Ntata on MBC Tv again, of course, not the old Allan but this new wise Allan. Imagine, how interesting it would have been.
    Imagine, going back in time and have MCP and PP governance and accountability preachers of today back in government and watch them what they would have been doing. Wow! Malawi is indeed full of rotten politicians and civil servants. I am in full agreement with you Allan on this one.

    My last beautiful quote is this one: “…we need to face the issue squarely and soberly and realize that party politics as it presents itself now has failed the country. We must accept that our situation will remain hopeless until we get out of the comfort zone of thinking only of self and begin thinking about future generations.” I totally agree with you on this one too.

  6. Mika Kumbire says:

    For once I agree with Ntata. It’s true that even the tax collecting modalities are bent on chocking small businesses and not encouraging them. It’s also true that our current crop of politicians don’t care what will happen in the future since they have all sent their children outside the country on our tax payers money.

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