The reaction of the leader of opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera on the recent infamous K4 billion scandal USF dubious funding to constituencies has been described as an act of hypocrisy and betrayal to the national cause.
In his closing remarks to the sitting of Mid-term Budget review of Parliament on Friday, Chakwera accused the Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe and Minister of Local Government Kondwani Nankhumwa of the act of criminalizing the government unbudgeted money allocated to parliamentary constituencies, saying the opposition has saved the State from being criminalised by regularising the funding with MCP president demanding that the two ministers should resign with immediate effect.
But a Lilongwe based governance analyst Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that Chakwera’s closing remarks “did not inspire any hope and confidence in Malawians in as far as the oversight role of Parliament through the opposition on the executive’s actions is concerned.”
Munthali said Chakwera’s remarks was brather “a mere political statemen” aimed at sprucing up the already tainted public image of the opposition as “an accomplice to government” in the act through regularising the “illegal and suspicious conduct.”
Added Munthali: “It’s regrettable to note that just as it was with the famous Lilongwe-Salima Water project, Chakwera (and the opposition especially the MCP) has again fallen prey to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government’s crooked, suspicious and illegal manoeuvres this time under the guise of ‘stopping a thief from stealing from his employers kitchen to reward his friends and then using legal means to return the food to its rightful honour’.”
Contrary to Chakwera’s justification that the redistribution of the mysterious K4 billion was motivated by national interest, Munthaki pointed out that the picture one gets from the whole saga is that just like the DPP government the opposition MCP and others do not have the interest and plight of Malawians at heart but rather are “skewed at satisfying their self-political interests”.
Munthali, formerly National Secretary of the Ethics, Peace, and Justice Commission (EPJC) of Evangelical Association of Malawi and National Advocacy Coordinator for Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) said it was an “act of hypocrisy and contradictory” on the part of Chakwera to mention government’s decision to hide the source of the K4 Billion funding as one of the five bad decisions by the Government on the matter but still proceed to approve the the funding with the new agreed understanding that the money be spread to all constituencies in the absence of such vital information.
“In fact, Chakwera’s analogy of ‘stopping a thief from stealing from his employers kitchen to reward his friends and then using legal means to return the food to its rightful honour’ is flawed in many aspects when you consider opposition’s decision to approve the suspicious fund in the absence of convincing information as regards to the source of the fund and also contradictory statements from the Minister of Finance on the same.
“Besides, it is wrong and unethical for the leader of opposition to promote the message of using the law to regularise crooked and suspicious actions – instead of using the law to come to the bottom of crooked actions- under the guise of saving the state from being criminalised. This sets a bad precedence, and must be condemned in the strongest terms,” said Munthali.
While concurring with Chakwera’s calls for the Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe and Minister of Local Government Kondwani Nankhumwa to step down following the scandal, the soft spoken Munthali also said Malawians would also in the same vein be justified if they decide to call for the resignation of Chakwera and other opposition leaders –besides Nankhumwa and Gondwe- in Parliament for failing to provide the much needed oversight role of government’s decision on the matter and hence betraying the trust of Malawians.
“How do you explain the opposition decision to approve government’s proposal to reallocate K4 Billion to all constituencies in the absence of convincing information of the source of funds and financing modalities? Chakwera and the Opposition would have been taken seriously if they had suspended the approval of such funds until all the mystery, suspense, and all corruption allegations linked to the moneys as being used as a ‘thank you’ to all legislators who rejected electoral reforms were cleared through investigations. Otherwise, parading himself as a saint and crusader of corruption in Malawi on this matter is not only an act of hypocrisy but also mockery to the plight of Malawians,” said Munthali.
Munthali also took a swipe to challenge Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe’s recent statement that the K4 Billion funding was an experiment outside the current mechanism following allegations of abuse of Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Local Development Fund (LDF) or District Development Fund (DDF).
“The Minister is not being honest on this one. If this was really a new funding experiment, then certainly enough information about this arrangement would have been shared. It wouldn’t have required the media and other Opposition MPs to expose this for the Minister to come out and say this is an experiment.
“How do you explain a new funding experiment in the absence of the information of the source and modalities of such an experimented fund? If truth be told, indications from the whole saga clearly attests to the fact that this so-called experiment fund was purely meant at rewarding patronage in the face of the previous frustrated electoral reforms. This is further worsened by the fact that behind’s legislators (both opposition and government) decision to redistribute the moneys to all constituencies was merely political – that is to use the funds for campaign rather than the so-called intended projects. The CDF experience attests to this’” said Munthali.
Meanwhile, newspaper columnist Suzgho Khunga also commenting on the matter, pointed out that the MPs entered into a deal with the devil, when the DPP government had not given any explanation as to who made the ill-conceived decision to reward 86 MPs at the expense of others.
Khunga argues that the opposition MPs had little interest in getting to the bottom of the scandal but to get in on the deal, in whatever way.
“All the representatives that the opposition sent to the roundtable discussion could see was millions dangled before their eyes and they could not resist but to throw morals out of the window and partake in the loot that was about to be shared irregularly.
“The opposition representatives came out of the meeting with milk scones stuffed onto their mouths and did not even have the guts to rise up and continue questioning what had a mere 24 hours ago sounded like an illegal act,’ the columnist wrote.
According to Khunga, Malawians who had expected these MPs to be noble and refuse ths irregular manner of distributing development projects must feel betrayed and they have every right to be.
“Those MPs who are trying to sound holier than thou after the fact but have made no attempts to refuse this handout are not innocent. The same paintbrush applies to them as long as they continue to make senseless justifications,” wrote the columnist.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :