Former President Joyce Banda says there are a lot of good programmes and policies that Malawians today can learn from past presidents and governments, which can also be adopted to address some of the “deepening” social and economic challenges facing the nation today.
In her New Year’s Message released by her office on New Year’s Day, Banda calls for “unity of purpose among all Malawians without regard to our political, religious and tribal differences”.
“We are all sailing in this ship together and if it sinks, we shall all perish, as Malawians. As we move forward with hope, let us learn to appreciate and acknowledge the work and achievements of previous governments and presidents during their time.” Banda says.
According to her, despite his autocratic leadership style, Dr. Kamuzu Banda was instrumental in breaking the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which ushered in our independence in 1964.
Kamuzu Banda presided over Malawi’s rapid social and economic development, including a sound road network, public infrastructure, sound education, referral hospitals and improved commercial agriculture.
She also recalled that Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda was extremely particular about ensuring that “his people had enough food, good clothes and better housing”.
“During President Bakili Muluzi’s time, Malawi experienced the establishment of governance and rule of law institutions, such as the Ant-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and an independent judiciary. He must be credited for bringing about democracy and ensuring it is consolidated.
“The late President Professor Bingu wa Mutharika went to the World Bank to fight for the introduction of the Input Subsidy Program. As a result, Malawi achieved high food security levels like never witnessed before in our country,” recalls Banda.
However, she said Malawians would be the best judge regarding the performance of the current president, Peter Mutharika.
“All I know is that international watchdogs have rated Malawi as the poorest country in the world under his watch for the first time in the history of our independence,” reads the message.
According to Banda, if Malawians acknowledged such historical facts, they will be able to learn and adopt some of the workable solutions to the current challenges.
“Achievements of past leaders are case studies, which must give us hope that a better future is possible when our present leaders initiate certain policies and programmes. We will also be able to avoid certain policies and programs that may not have worked before,” she says.
But Banda rapped Predident Mutharika for his apparent lack of seriousness to pursue corruption suspects, saying she had expected him to “continue from where I had left off”.
Says Banda: “In September 2013, the European Head of Delegation, Ambassador Alexander Baum, alerted me about his suspicions that the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) had serious loopholes, which some public officers were taking advantage of to steal government money.
“I therefore announced at ECAMA Annual Conference in Mangochi on September 7, 2013 that my government would review IFMIS in order to ensure its integrity and to prevent any loss of Malawian taxpayers’ money through fraud. I also publicly made it clear that anyone involved in stealing public funds would be arrested and that I would not shield anyone,” she says and chronicles some of the specific steps her government undertook to fight corruption and theft of public money, including initiating a forensic audit into cash-gate by engaging “an internationally-renowned audit firm, Baker Tilly (now called RSM)” with the help of the British Government and inviting opposition party leaders, faith and civil society leaders to State House to seek their input in the fight against theft of public money and steps brief them on the steps being taken to arrest the culprits and take them to book.
“As a result of these measures, the first 72 people were arrested and many bank accounts were frozen. Most of them have been convicted and sentenced while others are still answering charges related to cash-gate to-date,” she says.
Banda explains that on leaving office in 2014, she had expected that the current President would continue from where she left off in regard to the fight against corruption and Cashgate scandal.
“But judging by the way matters of corruption are being handled now, I may have been too optimistic. To this day, no action has been taken on numerous fraud allegations, including the MK577 billion fraud audit report, and perhaps most disturbingly, the recent ADMARC maize and UN peacekeeping soldiers’ missing allowances scandals.
“In all these matters, there is enough information and evidence of wrongdoing by certain individuals to provide any serious government with the impetus to investigate. It is my sincere hope that President Mutharika’s government will follow in our footsteps in the fight against corruption, by instituting open and transparent investigations into the looting of government resources, especially the MK577 billion Price Waterhouse Coopers report, which has been in progress since 2014 but has swept under the carpet,” says the former President who is also leader of the opposition People’s Party (PP).
Banda says Malawians continue to enjoy peace and tranquility despite facing extremely difficult socio-economic situations and thanked God for it.
“As it has been my tradition, I, once again, wish all Malawians a Happy and Prosperous New Year, 2017. My humble prayer to our Loving God is to grant us His guiding presence as we strive to deal with the current deepening social and economic problems, especially the desperate food situation.
“Today, many Malawians don’t know where their next meal shall come from, or indeed if it will come at all. It is my humble prayer to God that He grants us enough rainfall this season so that the nation can harvest enough for food,” reads the message, which also addresses the current various social and economic issues in Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :