Cashgate comes in different forms. Pocketing millions of kwacha for goods or services not rendered, claiming allowances for field work not undertaken and raising funds from parastatals for a dinner dance organised by a political party constitute cash gate. Dinner dance is more startle because the contribution is seen as normal. Yet funds for parastatals are for development purpose and not to fund private organisations like a political party or to be used anyhow. Acts of parliament that create respective State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) prescribe how the funds are to be utilized. This is in addition to the Public Finance Management Act. Hence, SOEs expenditure follow the law. Since when did SOEs become donors for a political party?
The DPP should be the last political party to use parastatals for fundraising ventures because during the campaign period they openly opposed the policy of using resources of parastatals for political gain. They criticised previous political parties MCP, UDF and PP for doing this ngati zeni zeni. Here they are now, without shame, doing the same thing. This is hypocrisy of the highest order! It is common knowledge that parastatals cannot refuse to contribute money to the governing party if they are invited to a dinner dance for fear of political reprisals. Heads of parastatals know that if they refuse to donate their jobs are at stake.
Hence, a dinner dance has become a natural means political parties use to siphon the resources from parastatals to fund their private affairs. As if this is not bad enough, SOEs are under tremendous financial pressure to improve service delivery. The financial position of many of them is so poor that they are struggling to provide quality service to Malawians. And DPP has the audacity to take away even the few resources at SOEs’disposal!
NGOs and CSOs are justified to take DPP and parastatals to court so that they refund the money. The poor performance of many SOEs can be attributed to politicians and their political parties who stripped them of their resources. For example, political parties from MCP to DPP have been using parastatal resources’ to ferry party supporters to political functions or inviting them to a dinner dance where they donate money.
In some cases politicians have helped themselves to cash in form of loans. UDF politicians stripped Admarc around 1998-99 when they got loans which they never repaid. DPP politicians and their cohorts also stripped Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) either through authorising or accessing unsecured loans. Some people responsible for MSB downfall are happily serving as ministers in Mutharika’s cabinet. The loan defaulters, with the backing of the courts, are even refusing to repay. And government does not care about these looters of public resources. Malawi is a joke!
While political parties are free to raise money, it is the manner they raise funds that is worrying. Invariably, they want to steal public resources to advance their parochial and selfish political agenda. As we get closer to the election in 2019, one can expect massive looting and widespread misuse of public resources by the DPP.
Incidentally, DPP does not seem to learn from the past. There was vehement public outcry a few years ago when National Aids Commission, a government agency which survives on external donor benevolence and parliament subvention, donated millions of kwacha to Mlakho wa Lomwe, a private organisation to which the president belongs, and also donated funds to Beautify Malawi, a trust run by the president’s wife. DPP should not turn any government institution into a donor organisation. It is equally unfortunate that learned people in DPP who include lawyers and economists disappointingly fail to give direction to their fellow members not to tamper with SOEs’ resources.
There are so many ways a political party can raise money. These include donations from party members, organising competitions, selling party cards and memolabia such as branded caps, t-shirts, scarfs etc. If a dinner dance is used, an open invitation to the public should be made. Individuals of public institutions should be invited in their individual capacity and not in the name of a public company or institution. This means that whoever is invited should donate money from their own pocket and in their personal capacity and not use institutional resources.
A public institution has no business donating money to a political party. Private companies also donate to occasions like blue night in return for contracts and other favours. So such occasions are fertile ground for breeding corruption. There is nothing like free lunch!
DPP should refund the money and not use a lame excuse that parastatals donated the money out of free will. The money was donated in contravention of the law. Period!