Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa are facing a public revolt and growing pressure to resign over K4 billion “quick grant” project meant for rural development.
Calls for the two ministers’ resignation have come from far and wide practically since the contentious money was initially earmarked for development projects in 86 constituencies but will now be shared equally by all the 193 constituencies, meaning that each constituency will receive K20.7 million.
Two Malawi daily newspapers, The Nation and The Daily Times, have added their voice to the call by civil society organisations (CSOs) and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), an arm of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), that the two ministers should step down and that President Peter Mutharika should also address the nation on the issue.
“CSOs must press for accountability”, The Nation said in its editorial comment.
The paper noted that there has not been any transparency regarding the source of money and how it will be disbursed.
“We think there is no moral justification on the part of the minister [Gondwe] to keep Malawians in the dark on the source of the money,” reads the editorial in part.
It urges the CSOs to look beyond the Finance minister and press the Executive to “ensure that transparency and accountability is exercised in its usage” since money is for Malawians which they pay through taxes.
The paper appeals to CSOs, who have been shrinking in the country, to keep the whole government machinery in check for its excesses in ensuring that they track how taxpayers’ money is used “for the benefit of all not just a few selfish individuals.”
“Goodall Gondwe deserves a boot,” The Daily Times declared in its editorial comment.
It concurred with their rival daily, The Nation, that one important cornerstone of a functioning democracy is that all public officers should be transparent and accountable to the populace.
Daily Times which is one of the titles published by Times Group, takes pride of playing its rightful watchdog role as its sister publication Malawi News exposed “Goodall’s underhand tactics” when it was the first to report that the government had allocated K40 million each to 86 Members of Parliament, most of whom voted against the Electoral Reforms (Amendment) Bills.
The paper backs calls for Gondwe to immediately resign, saying his role in the saga is a huge betrayal to Malawians as an entrusted keeper of the republic kitty.
“It is a fact that, anywhere in the world, managers that misappropriate or fail to properly protect or give full account of resources of the organisation are axed and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and all the ill-gotten gains are returned to the rightful owners,” the editorial reads.
The paper concluded that the Finance minister’s behaviour is “at best the proof that the country does not need him near any public purse.”
Gondwe insisted the money was from taxes, grants and borrowing and was saved from re-adjustments of the 2017/18 budget that saw cuts to the development budget.
But University of Livingstonia (Unilia) political analyst George Phiri has said the ideal situation would be for President Mutharika to fire Gondwe and Nankhumwa.
Another political commentator from Chancellor College Ernest Thindwa said while the call is necessary, the feasibility of Gondwe resigning is doubtful, arguing Malawi is a society where voluntary resignation is not practised.
Capital Hill has argued that the money, termed quick grant project, is meant for rural development.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :