“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it; I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against” –Malcolm X
This week was dramatic enough we needed no additional executive comedy from the likes of Kondwani Nankhumwa.
Look, the arrest of Paul Mphwiyo, him whose September 13, 2013, shooting unravelled the whole ‘cashgate’ affair, was dramatic enough we needed no mirthless jokes from the Information Minister.
Look, Mphwiyo’s shooting as he drove into his villa from a night out with the boys opened a can of worms. Huge sums of money, like confetti at some victory party, started showing up in impossible places – stuffed in baby dolls, hidden in car boots or stashed under beds or pillows.
As we have come to know now, there was no way these monies could have found themselves before a teller in a high street bank lest a few uncomfortable questions were asked.
So we thought Mphwiyo was the magic bullet to solve this dramatic tale of our times.
But, hell no! The Anti-Corruption Bureau, them whose thankless job is to check corruption in Malawi, had other ideas. They nabbed the guy and his wife.
As if that was not dramatic enough, the top cop we entrusted to get to the bottom of the whole ‘cashgate’ saga was himself found on the wrong side of the law he was supposed to enforce.
The arrest of the former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Nelson Bophani, is the most interesting so far. Despite stopping three bullets, most of us suspected Mphwiyo had a few clarifications to make. Look, the office of the Ministry of Finance Budget Director, if truth be told, was not as sexy until the young chap occupied it.
So he needed to answer a question or two. Of course, no human being deserves three bullets to answer any question.
But the arrest of Bophani is Agatha Christie and James Hardley Chase rolled into one.
Look, Bophani was in charge of the whole ‘cashgate’ investigations. This means an impressionable young chap like Victor Sithole, who I believe, did not even know how many zeros are in K112 million before somebody roped him into the ‘cashgate’ scheme, had to bare it all to Bophani.
In the parlance of my senior colleague across the street the Raw Stuffer, Bophani was the ‘gear-box’ of the whole ‘cashgate’ investigations. So to have the hunter hunted, as it were, is quite interesting.
There was in fact a time when Bophani was the de facto Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service. My good friend Lot Dzonzi did not feature a lot as his supposed deputy waltzed lyrical about ‘cashgate’.
So, ordinarily, we should have thought the arrests of Mphwiyo and Bophani were enough drama for one week.
But, hell no! Kondwani Nankhumwa wanted a piece of the action.
I am not sure what illegal stuff my good friend, him whose job is to spruce up the often battered image of government, was high on. But, in his wisdom, the Information Minister believes the thieves who stole billions of our money are patriotic enough they will hand themselves over to the police or the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Nankhumwa, the patriot he is, is calling upon everyone who knows is “in one way or another involved in the plundering of the country’s coffers, to surrender themselves.”
But the minister is not done. He is even extending his patriotic call across the borders. He is saying those people who somehow skipped the borders but somehow feel culpable “to quickly come home to face justice.”
Well, well, well, whenever I feel inspired I do dabble in fiction. But my mentors always tell me the term ‘stranger than fiction’ came forth because, even if it is fiction, it has to possess some elements of believability.
In his heart of hearts, does Nankhumwa really believe the ‘cashgate’ crooks are so patriotic they are so sorry they stole public money and they no longer wish government to spend more by hunting them down?
In the first place, these guys knew what they were doing was wrong. That is the very reason they set up phoney companies and phoney contracts with government.
Is Nankhumwa so naïve to believe that suddenly these guys are so remorseful they will be running to the nearest police post to report themselves in? Mr. Minister, these are thieves whose first instinct is to circumvent the law, for crying out loud!
By the way, they say you are not a thief until you are caught. Now Nankhumwa is saying those who know they dipped their fingers in the kitty should show up at police posts or ACB offices.
How will they begin to introduce themselves? “Look, Mr. Officer, me I am Mr….I…I…”
C’mon, Mr. Minister, I personally do not support the publication of ‘cashgate’ suspects’ names before conclusion of investigations. But, from your reasoning, Sir, your government might as well just publish the Baker Tilly report. Yes, only then will I present myself and say, “I’m the Muckraker; my name is on Page 94 on the Baker Tilly report…”
And, in the same breath, Nankhumwa is saying government is not interfering with the ‘cashgate’ investigation. C’mon, Mr. Minister, by telling ‘cashgaters’ to report themselves to police, you are more than interfering, you are actually confusing the investigations.
Look, Malawians would have liked the ‘cashgate’ thing to be dealt with yesterday. But these are legal issues that need thorough investigations. That is why the ACB is meticulously analysing all data before it before pouncing on the suspected bad guys.
Now you want the thousands of potential ‘cashgaters’ to swamp the ACB offices. How is the bureau, already complaining of shortage of staff, going to process them? And where are they going to be kept? In the new Chinese stadium?
Good people, we all want to get to the bottom of ‘cashgate’ because it is killing us. Look, the British are even saying even the current wave of arrests are not good enough, the dragnet should go back to 2005.
That notwithstanding we need to be not only serious but also sober about it. Let the prosecuting authorities get proper warrants of arrest for dockets whose investigations have been completed and effect arrests.
If those whose dockets are ripe for action but happen to be beyond the borders, Nankhumwa should know there is Interpol that can help us track down the crooks. We can also explore extradition treaties for those who may openly try to hide in some countries.
Let the ACB do its job without executive pressure. They are professionals; they do not need any executive help, Mr. Minister!Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :