Some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country are planning to organize nation-wide demonstrations aimed at forcing the resignation of Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe for allegedly orchestrating the ‘K4 billion payout’ to Members of Parliament (MP).
The CSOs led by Gift Trapence and the usual suspects of Timothy Mtambo, Charles Kajoloweka, Billy Mayaya and Robert Phiri, among others, have decided to pin down the whole issue on Goodall Gondwe. They don’t mind the fact that despite initial inconsistencies, the issue was debated and rectified by Parliament. It is not the first time these CSOs have demanded the resignation of Goodall Gondwe.
It must be noted, however, that there is no single MP who has received any money or part of the K4 billion in form of cash. This money will be channeled to each of the 193 constituencies in this county as Constituency Development Fund (CDF) through the Ministry of Local Government, and will go directly as payment to suppliers of materials that are used for various development projects in constituencies such as cement, steel or timber. It is not some high personal largesse into anyone’s pocket.
It must also be noted that K4 billion has not been disbursed yet to MPs; it is more of an issue that was debated and agreed upon by Parliament. It is a matter that is only awaiting the implementation of a collective decision. In this case a collective decision of Members of Parliament from government as well as opposition, including the Leader of Opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, Lazarus Chakwera.
His (Chakwera) constituency is also among the constituencies to benefit from that money. If MPs had thought this channel of development was unnecessary and that it was wrongly constituted, they could not have accepted and approved the disbursement. They had the time and power to reject the money, and no-one was going to make a fuss about it. The mere fact that they approved the disbursement underlines consensus between government and opposition, which may also imply that the issue is important hence drawing common ground from both sides of the isle.
It is, therefore, illogical for CSOs in this country to organize whole demonstrations against a collective decision on which government and opposition are finding common ground, and one that represent a concerted view of the majority. For what benefit is the march being organized and for who? If CSOs claim to represent the people, MPs also represent the people, and MPs went a step further of being elected by the people they represent, it is not clear who elected the concerned leaders of CSOs. Now who are the CSOs representing, and which civil society is which?
The CSOs have obviously gone a notch too far and the way they are doing it is as though MPs, led by Goodall Gondwe, sat down one Sunday morning and decided to share a cool K4 billion cash from treasury amongst themselves to deepen their pockets. The alarm that CSOs are raising is just disproportionately high relative to the issue on the ground and very unnecessary.
In fact, the CSOs are to blame for misrepresenting this issue to the public as some kind of a cash heist resulting in many people thinking MPs have just shared and gone away with the ‘cash’.
Most Malawians are aware that a majority of the so-called CSOs are just briefcase organizations that are furiously struggling for relevance. As such they are always sniffing for ‘activity’ regardless of significance as long as they find something to write to their donors on ‘activities done so far’ to unlock more aid. This is not about Malawians or the ‘civil’ as they are trying to make the world believe. It is very much about filling their own pockets and a struggle for survival.
CSOs in Malawi should begin to develop a habit of consulting the people first before making abhorrent decisions that also often end up being an embarrassment to themselves. Most Malawians do not think these CSOs consulted the people on this one, because this money is for development, which will directly benefit the people. And how would they have presented the issue to the people? “Government has given you money for development, and we want to stop it because it was badly given?”
Typical of revolutions around the world, it is the people; the masses who own demonstrations because they are passionate about the collective concerns. It is not about making office decisions based on vested personal interests. If anything, the so-called CSOs should start lobbying for a transparent framework of disbursing such funds to ensure they go to intended projects and beneficiaries.
CSOs must also start thinking about better and effective ways of lobbying government than the tried and failed method of demonstrations. They have tried it before and so far it is only often the usual ‘hype and fade’ and on to another demonstration cycle with the same methods and the same people.
How are CSOs hoping to get different results this time when they keep repeating the same things? Why should CSOs want to go out of their way to make Goodall Gondwe the fall guy of an issue that is not of his making? Why have they decided to pick on Goodall? Is he the soft spot?
Goodall is obviously old and will most likely retire from service soon, but we have to give it to him; he has been of valuable service to this country and his performance has always been above average. He is the one largely credited for the stellar economic performance of the late Bingu wa Mutharika era, when this country registered annual GDP growth of about 7-8% second only to Qatar.
His performance under President Professor Peter Mutharika is also star-rated, and it is only fair that we give him the respect that he deserves. Goodall must be allowed to end his song on a high note when that time comes, not the embarrassment that these CSOs are spoiling to cultivateFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :