The second pillar that His Excellency the State President, Prof. Arthur Peter Muthalika advocates in Malawi is the Pillar of Integrity. By definition integrity means the art of being honest and true in your dealings, to be upright and reliable, to be sincere and to be faithful.
Integrity deals with the inner being where the results of which are reflected through external actions. Outward actions many times help us to see whether there is integrity in people or not. The call for Malawians to be a people of integrity comes has been made because there have been disturbing and shocking actions in society reflecting a complete moral decay.
Now how far must the state machinery deal with question of integrity? Are politicians the right people to carry out campaign on the question of integrity? In this paper I am sharing the notion that issues of integrity delicate must be institutionalized within the State if the nation has to achieve meaningful results. The State apparatus must have working systems to deal with the question of integrity. The absence of such institutionalized system has led to more Cash-Gate which has become a systematized and professional way of stealing money.
However the following must be noted: firstly that integrity is the fundamental in the nation’s development. Secondly is that God honours a nation when leaders and people are full of integrity.
Thirdly is that wickedness flourishes in a nation when there is no integrity.
Fourthly is that like patriotism, Integrity starts from the top to bottom and in this case, it all starts from the leaders to the bottom. Just like an aircraft pilot, leaders are crucial in the promotion of integrity through their actions and lifestyle.
How far a nation goes in terms of integrity depends on the level of integrity leaders have.
Integrity in the Executive
In any parliamentary democracy, the Executive is a very crucial arm of government whose main job is to implement policies of a state. This is where cabinet ministers meet to discuss and map a way forward on all matters of nation’s development. Since there is a deep relationship between development and integrity, it is within trust that those appointed into cabinet are men and women of integrity.
It is a must for the executive to be a people with highest level of integrity because these are the people who help the State President develop the nation. As people of Integrity those in cabinet walk the talk as good model in of integrity and societal development.
Integrity is not a theory but it’s a practical venture whose fruits are outwardly seen. It’s through their actions that we know whether they are a people with integrity or not. Unless ordinary people begin to see that their leaders are people of integrity, a nation cannot change and move for the better. The Executive therefore hugely contribute in setting the pace in promoting level of integrity in a nation. How far the question of integrity goes in a nation depends on what people see in the life of the executive.
Integrity in the Judiciary
The judiciary is very crucial in the administration of justice in a nation. There is a deep relationship between the justice delivery and integrity. The relationship is in the way the judiciary delivers justice to both the rich and the poor. However it’s through integrity that we see the judge professionally handling matters of justice without looking into societal status of people whether rich or poor, popular or not.
Many have wondered as to why cases of politically connected and powerful people drag in the court of law for decades while the under-privileged and poor have their cases fast-tracked. This scenario speaks of integrity of the judicial system. The absence of integrity in the judicial system leads to chaos in justice delivery where the principal of law gets violated and compromised. Therefore success and strength of any government depends on the seriousness of the integrity of the Judiciary in the delivery of justice equally to all.
Integrity in Parliament
The house of parliament is where for Malawi 193 members meet to make laws for our country. Being a place where laws are made, Parliament must have people with integrity, honesty and love. Many have questioned the integrity of our MPs when they cross the floor in satisfying the demands of their stomach. That our MPs can cross the floor at will with no remorse shows that there is no political integrity in them.
People have also queried the integrity of our MPs when they keep on demanding for pay-hike when evidence shows that majority of them have done little to develop their constituencies. It is also a shame and heartlessness and lack of integrity that MPs can pocket allowances when they have not worked. This is Cash-Gate inside the August house and it’s a lack of integrity and umunthu.
Unless integrity unless integrity becomes an inbuilt thing within our MPs propagating this gospel would be a challenge because societal integrity is copied from what those in leadership.
Integrity in the civil service
The civil service is the largest sector in the Malawi economy and this is where government technocrats implement policies of a state. The issue of Cash-Gate in Malawi civil service exposed the lack of integrity in the system because there is a deep connection between corruption and integrity. Corruption is done when levels of integrity in people is low.
People with integrity do not get involved in corruption. Therefore institutionalization of integrity within the civil service would be a workable solution in promoting umunthu and professionalism in government. If integrity becomes part of the civil service operating system then there would be automatic fiscal discipline in financial management and all troubles of financial mismanagement would be a thing of the past.
Integrity in NGOs
The question of integrity cannot be a complete equation without connecting it to NGO operational systems in Malawi. Many have wondered if at all integrity is one of the pillars in NGOs in Malawi? Some have wondered because NGOs for many have become instruments for personal poverty alleviation. The irony has been that since independence more than Trillion of dollars have been pumped into the nation’s economy through NGOs but to this day the majority poor continue to get poorer while those administering NGO projects continue to get richer faster. For NGOs integrity would mean officials sacrificing their personal needs for the sake of holistically empowering the poor. Integrity for NGO would also mean the utilization of resources for intended purposes with a focus of transforming the lives of people in villages.
Having said these therefore, the future of this nation depends on the level of integrity people can demonstrate in nation building. More chaos is seen if there is no integrity in the governance systems which lead to more pain and suffering. So if Malawi has to be a more prosperous nation then the gospel of integrity must be propagated equally to all.
- Dr Qeko Jele is Systematic Theologian, a social scientist and an alumni of the University of Fort Hare and he writes this in his personal capacity as a specialist in Religion, Democracy, State and Development: [email protected]