It is unbelievable that Escom management has blocked the Anti-Corruption Bureau from probing the K4.9 billion surrounding the award of contract and payment to its suppliers. It is equally surprising that the Escom board has backed management’s action. Escom cannot investigate itself and come up with concrete action against the corrupt officials.
Both the board and management have obviously something to hide. The political interference in the award of contracts is obviously coming from the ruling DPP stalwarts who want to benefit personally from such contracts. Since Escom board is dominated by DPP sympathisers it is easy to understand why they have backed the blockage. They fear exposing the corrupt officials because of possible reprisals.
So blocking ACB should be seen as a calculated move to hide the truth. It also undermines the work of ACB which is a constitutionally-constituted body with a clear mandate to investigate any corruption brought to its attention. That mandate need to be respected. Hence, Escom should have co-operated with ACB.
To assert that the ACB officials who went to investigate the issue did not know what they were looking for is an insult and being mean with the truth. Escom is hiding the rot in their closet. Full stop!
What would happen if all the organisations refused to be investigated and told ACB to keep away from their affairs, they will investigate the issue themselves?
It is unfortunate that no organisation (including opposition political parties) have taken to task Escom’s for its unacceptable action. ACB should be allowed to do its work without interference from any individual or organisations. The war against corruption will be made difficult to win if organisations choose not to be probed.
By blocking ACB, Escom is perpetuating a culture of corruption and impunity. It does not reflect well on the board either. It shows Escom board is weak and fails to play its oversight role to ensure that management adhere to principles of corporate governance.
Finance director Bettie Mahuka should be commended for her integrity and professional ethics when she resigned because she refused to be “pressured to authorise alleged dubious payments which was against her conscience.”
The board should partly take the blame for the malpractices in the organisation. Escom has actually been captured by politicians to the extent that both management and the board are hopeless to end the malpractice. It is institutionalized!
Escom’s poor performance can partly be attributed to this corporate capture. It is an open secret that Escom’s resources have systematically been abused by politicians.Funds find their way into private pockets through corruption. This has deprived the institution from providing quality service. Malawians in townships experience blackouts every day and for long hours.
And all they get are endless excuses. Yet Escom makes a lot of money for which there is little to show for it. It is even failing to make any tangible expansion to end the blackouts, all because there is fraud and mismanagement.
Although the ACB has challenges, it requires the support of everyone including Escom to stamp out corruption. But preventing the ACB from doing its job is unacceptable. It shows Escom does not believe in corporate governance and the rule of law.