The Cashgate echo is coming back at DPP: Malawi grand corruption

Cashgate or the systematic pilferage of government money by public officials and their cohorts heralded a cosmic shift on Malawi’s social political terrain. It changed our politics; it changed our economics; it affected our values as a people and completely altered how we are viewed by the international community.Loose cannon

The ripple effects of Cashgate on the daily lives of common Malawians have been quick, profound and particularly stinging. One defining Cashgate after effect is the suspension of direct budgetary support by our traditional donors, something that has left Capital Hill  – the seat of Malawi government  – limping and failing to provide even the very basic social services.

Hospitals don’t have the necessary drugs and pregnant women are being turned back. Education standards have ebbed to their lowest knees in decades and teachers don’t remember the last time they received a full pay in time.

Inflation is hovering in the double digits and for the first time in history, our country found itself with an unfamiliar tag of being the poorest in the world. We became, in fact, the first poorest country in the world that was not involved in any major war or civil conflict in the last decade – our own embarrassing first.

We have lost our dignity as a country and have become the global laughing stock and the butt of all Sunday jokes.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is perhaps the only party in the country that has used the Cashgate scandal to its maximum advantage. During the campaign period for the 2014 Tripartite Election, the party projected itself as the cleanest party, which was not tainted by the systematic stealing of government money. It created its main messages around the Cashgate scandal, and made dealing with corruption and Cashgate a major theme of its campaign.

The DPP projected immediate past president, Joyce Banda, as the godmother of Cashgate (perhaps due to the fact that major revelations occurred under her reign after the shooting of former Budget Director, Paul Mphwiyo), something which obviously worked to her disadvantage. Not that the DPP and its godfathers did not know that they were the real mastermind of the real Cashgate, they knew, but chose to ride on the wave of treachery and deceit, and somehow hoped they will never get caught.

When it came to power, DPP made Cashgate one of the centerpieces of its operations. All cases that were stated during the People’s Party (PP) reign have been tacked with breathtaking speed. As we are talking now, almost all suspects are either serving jail terms or they are in jail awaiting sentencing.

The DPP has also used as a weapon for political persecution through explicit and veiled threatening of political opponents. It seems mother luck has now run out of steam, and somehow the chicken has come back to roost. The ruling party currently finds itself in a very unconformable position, and is behaving like a cornered animal with its back to the wall. The very ground upon which it has always launched its political attacks against political opponents is quickly giving way. The much suppressed K577 billion forensic audit report that was commissioned and funded by the German government— and undertaken by RSM Risk Assurance Services LLP of the United Kingdom (UK)—  is now out.

Perhaps DPP knew what was coming when it dilly-dallied and somehow prevented its release. The report is threatening to spill some damning and incriminating beans for the party’s top brass, including Cabinet ministers.

According to sources, the audit report has unearthed sordid cashgate details dating back to 2009 involving DPP and former President Bingu wa Mutharika. It has reportedly implicated seven senior Cabinet Ministers in the current Mutharika government.

Minister of Agriculture , George Chaponda, who is also DPP vice president was ridiculed in parliament by Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire that he is one of the 7 ministers implicated. He furiously denied. Labour Minister Henry Mussa has also denied being linked.

It is clear the way Auditor General Stephen Kampasa, is struggling to keep information away from the public domain that he is under enormous pressure from a very powerful hand. Since it was revealed that the report has implicated senior Cabinet Ministers in the Mutharika government, Kamphasa has issued and ‘de-issued’ several public statements that generally amounted to an empty charade and exposed the level of political pressure that he is under.

He issued a statement to effect that the 577 billion kwacha Cashgate was just an audit query and did not imply that the amount was stolen. He said the real amount that was missing is a much reduced figure than that.

Kamphasa even scolded an ‘irresponsible journalist’ who published the details for getting his facts wrong. He issued another statement where he referred to the same ‘577 billion Cashgate’ as being spread across several regimes. We wonder now as to which 577 billion Cashgate is which that Mr Kamphasa is talking about. It is apparent that the more Kamphasa is trying to twist the truth in favor of his DPP masters the more he finds himself entangled in a web of lies and making things worse for the very people he is trying to protect.

Fiddling with figures and instructing Kamphasa to engage in delaying tactics through issuing of ‘clever’ public statements will also not wash this time.  It is only logical for  implicated rotten Cabinet Ministers to honorably resign their positions to pave way for investigations.  The judicially must ensure all those implicated have their day in court and that there is no one who is above the law or treated like a sacred cow.

Mutharika must also do better than he is doing now. It is clear from his lackluster approach since these revelations were made that he is not keen to do anything. He has obviously developed cold feet at the prospect of moving on his implicated friends for fear of we don’t know what.  Again this tactic will not work this time.

Malawians and the international partners are eagerly waiting to see how Mr. President will live up to his much touted drive against corruption.  If he won’t make a move on his friends, the only move that would be worth making would be to resign his position and make way for someone with real spine. It is a make-or-sink moment for him and for Malawi.

No nation will run away from corruption when the devil is the kingmaker.” –Chukwuemeka Onyejinduaka

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The Patriot
The Patriot
5 years ago

Give us the names of the rotten 7 Cabinet ministers please! We want to shame all of them, including ambuyawo ndi zidzukulu dzawo!
Actually these corrupt 7 have no business leading any ministry, they belong to Zomba maximum prison!
Its better they get arrested now when they still have strength to stand trial otherwise boma likadzasintha they will face very loud music!!!

5 years ago

We are expecting the pot to call the kettle black, if we think Mutharika wlll name the seven ministers and accuse them of corruption. He himself was one of the six accused of treason, but he got away with it by fiddling the elections and declaring himself President in 2014. As President he is certainly not going to allow himself to be drawn into the cashgate scandal as well. Anyone who thinks APM will tackle corruption and guide Malawi to a better and brighter future is living in cloud cuckoo land.

5 years ago

Until Malawians know the report’s truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they cannot have faith in this DPP government. If they are blame-free, why are they not releasing the full details? We all know the answer!

Mika Kumbire
Mika Kumbire
5 years ago

Loose cannon, Amayi Joyce Banda blew it the day she decided to draw and cash cheques directly from account number one. The previous guys like Bakili Muluzi and Bingu Wamutharika were using kickbacks and bribes not putting their hands directly into the Pot. This is why during Amayi every project stopped since all the money was going into her pocket. During Bingu we could see roads and infrastructure happening. According, to my understanding Kamphasa could be correct. MK577 Billion could be questioned costs. For those who have done project/Grant management; questioned costs do not necessarily mean there was fraud. It… Read more »

5 years ago

Malawians, the only hope is the highest court, the Constitutional Court. Take the matter there.

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