A local governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali has said the Malawi’s culture of expecting and demanding donations from the sitting President whenever the latter graces occasions has the potential of promoting “executive thieving and corruption”.
The remarks are coming at a time when the Civil Society under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition have been demanding for President Peter Mutharika to resign or get impeached following a leaked Anti-Corruption Bureau investigation report implicating him of benefitting MK 145 million from the fraudulent Ration Packs at Police.
According to Mutharika’s press office, the said MK 145 million was a donation to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
However, in an emailed response to Nyasa Times questionnaire on Mutharika’s claims that the K145 million was a donation, Munthali avoided directly responding to the question by instead bemoaning the Malawi’s culture of expecting donations from the sitting President which makes the latter to resort to stealing from the public coffers in order to meet that high demand.
“I cannot agree more with those that have demanded accountability on the President’s suspicious dealings in this ration packs police gate. It’s important that ACB is allowed to complete its job on the matter.
“However, there is another area which as a country have continued to pay a blind eye in as far as the issue of presidential donations is concerned. This is the issue of our Malawi’s culture of expecting and demanding donations from the sitting President especially when gracing public, political, religious or social gatherings where he or she is invited. And indeed, in turn, we have seen our Presidents especially since 1994 responding to such demands disguised as requests by donating millions to such institutions, and yet no one has asked the source of such funds,” said Munthali.
He continyed: “ While of course some may argue that our Presidents use their personal money to donate to these institutions, there is also a high likelihood of corrupt and thieving Presidents to loot from public coffers in order to meet such demands for political gains. In some cases they may resort to diverting funds meant for other public services to these interests.”
Added Munthali: “It’s too sad that in Malawi Presidents are treated as God- all providing – to the extent that some Presidents abuse the existing development planning systems in order to meet these selfish demands. Such a culture undermines the existing government systems and processes which facilitates identification and priotisation of development needs where now the President becomes the sole decider of what development to bring to an area at the expense of the existing national and district development plans.”
Regrettably, Munthali said citizens don’t ask themselves he implications and effects of such donations on the entire national development agenda as outlined in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy.