“This is a very technical subject. The Bill should be transferred to a committee of Parliament to look at it. We really have to think hard,” Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe.
Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party (PP) on June 10, 2015rejected a government bill seeking authorisation to borrow about K9.8 billion from European Investment Bank (EIB).
Funds were supposedly meant to finance the upgrading of essential aviation safety and security equipment at Kamuzu and Chileka international airports.
Tabling the Bill, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said among other things, the funds would be used for:
- Installation of surveillance equipment, navigation equipment comprising of existing Very High Frequency (VHF) and Direction Finder (VDF), meteorological equipment and runway visual range.
- Installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) link to tower and upper station link, completion of taxiway, and purchase of rescue fire-fighting services and x-ray machines.
- Procurement of equipment for communication, navigation and meteorology at Chileka International Airport.
- Upgrading perimeter road and new airfield lighting equipment.
Enter Mzimba Solola MP, Jacob Hara: DPP still in Noah’s Arch
Mzimba Solola MP, Jacob Hara, argued that said it was ridiculous that most of the equipment which government said it wanted to purchase were obsolete. He gave the VDF (Direction Finder) as something from Noah’s arch and not required in modern airports.
“This piece of equipment locates the position of an aircraft using Very High frequencies.International civil aviation is now migrating from ground-based equipment to satellite based equipment…DPP please wake up from your colour dreams. We are now in the e-world.” Hara schooled the DPP.
Ditto Mzimba Solola MP, Jacob Hara: Deliberate Pilfering Pranks (DPP)
Hara further argued that completion of taxiway at KIA was already done about four years ago under the late Bingu wa Mutharika administration.
He also noted a repetition of projects, recalling that on Friday, Ministry of Transport signed agreement with Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) on a number of activities Japan will be funding under which surveillance radar items; CCTV link, x-ray machines and baggage screening machines were, again, covered.
“Unless these issues are addressed and amended, we are very concerned with these irregularities and there is no way MCP can pass bills for government to borrow money for items that have been done,” he pointed out.
Enter Chitipa South legislator Werani Chilenga:
Concurring with Hara, PP’s Chitipa South legislator Werani Chilenga wondered why government is ignoring other airfields.
“While money is being wasted like this, Mr. Speaker Sir, other airports are not being taken care of. I’m talking of Mtakataka Police Airwing, Zomba and Old Airport. Lack of equipment there has put our men in uniform at risk,” Chilenga said.
Back to the drawing board?
Despite Minister of Transport, Francis Kasaila futile “clarifications” on the obsolete gadgets and duplications noted by Hara and the misplaced priorities noted by Chilenga; Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe temporarily withdrew the bill so that Parliamentary Committee on Transport should scrutinize concerns raised by the two political parties.
What does this mean?
Four things are clear. First of all, someone, somewhere, schemed to get a loan (K9.8 billion from European Investment Bank (EIB)) for items Malawi would not buy because they are either obsolete or have been funded otherwise.
Secondly, any which way, these funds – had the bill passed – would have been “spent”. On whom and what, only God knows.
Thirdly, either the Executive is living in Noah’s time and is entirely out of touch with recent technology, or they are irredeemable thieves who will use any trick, in and outside the book, to get their dirty hands on money which they can squander.
And more pertinently, this is why despite all the aid and debt that Malawi has been receiving and continues to get, nothing is changing for the better on the ground for the ordinary boy, girl, man and woman in the village.
What can we do?
Malawians cannot afford to leave the good work of providing checks and balances on this devious Executive to Parliament alone.
Governance, good governance, needs no spectators.
It is therefore incumbent upon any Malawian, who hopes to see Malawi develop, to watch each and every move of this government while its mandate lasts, and come the next election, put the last nail on the coffin of thieving leaders.
How can Malawi develop when the Executive is serious only with self-enrichment?
Was this scam just an oversight? It cannot be. Malawi has too many technology savvy people not to know that we are living in the digital age.
How about the duplications, were they too just minor irregularities? It cannot be. The Ministry of Transport was aware that the agreement with Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) covered the very surveillance radar items included in this bill.
To conclude, let there be no peace for the wicked! “Cash-gate” disguised as developmental bills, or in whatever form, should have no place in the Malawi we want, the Malawi we need, and the country we love.
One final word: If this is the way Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and his cohorts want to run down Malawi, then as Goodal Gondwe has said, they have another think coming.
Like all Nyasa Times correspondents and columnists, I will not rest.
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