Many missed it. Amidst the euphoria and confusion that have come with the elections case, it is understandable. That is how many Malawians also missed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s address to the nation this week in which he tackled some pertinent issues of national importance. One of them is that he would intervene in the food security situation in Malawi by making maize available to Malawians if private traders don’t release the maize they are hoarding. But this is not the issue I want to address here.
My interest is on the down-to-earth statement by secretary for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Joseph Mwandidya, that his ministry is rotten to the core. Did you hear that? And that coming from a senior civil servant is not masanje (Children play things). It does not happen often that a senior government official admits corruption. There is an entrenched culture of shielding one another in the public service. The thinking is that they all stand to benefit shielding one another than pulling in different directions. You scratch my back and I scratch yours. Unfortunately, it is a sick mentality that is not taking the country anywhere.
Even after The Nation escalated Mwandidya’s confession to the front page the following day, feedback from readers was muted on this particular issue. Instead, what caught many readers’ attention was a statement about the purported sale of Livimbo Community Day Secondary School in Lilongwe. This came from legislator for Lilongwe City South West, Nancy Tembo.
Purported sale of Livimbo Community Secondary School? Yes, for the simple reason that the Ministry of Lands vehemently disputed the said transaction. Unfortunately, the ministry has not shown to this day any evidence that not a centimeter of the school’s land has been appropriated.
Lands minister Vuwa Kaunda just went to town on Tembo and other Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members of Parliament for allegedly not investigating the issue before making allegations meant to tarnish the image of government. The nobler thing that Kaunda should have done is to prove to all and sundry that the warehouses and a brick perimeter fence on one side of the school’s premises do not sit on government land. Livimbo Community Day Secondary School must be one in a million schools that own property like warehouses.
When the story about the sale went viral on social media, Kaunda rushed to Livimbo. That indeed was the right thing to do. Mulandu wa munda amakambirana pamunda pompo. But Kaunda did not prove anything.
It is for failing to do this that Kaunda’s statement disputing the sale has not doused and anger about the said sale among Malawians. This is judging from the feedback which is trending on social media on the matter. Something happened about the land which brought out the smoke. And logically, I want to see the fire behind this smoke.
The icing on the cake is the story about a recently busted parallel ‘Lands Office’ which a well-placed official in the ministry said is the one which sold off the land. Malawians will never know which other land the syndicate sold. Kaunda himself did not want to admit that such a syndicate ever existed. Ironically the minister is no stranger to the shenanigans in the ministry. He was once duped in a sale of land and lost K1.4 million to a ghost seller. The best Kaunda can do as the political head of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development is to work hand in hand with his principal secretary who looks very willing to root out this corruption, abuse and maladministration in the ministry.
If Kaunda cannot admit the rot in the ministry, if he will continue defending corruption and abuse he will be a liability like many other Lands ministers before him who presided over mediocrity.