Muluzi was right ‘Malawians forget quickly’: K236bn Cashgate successfully swept under the carpet

Former president Bakili Muluzi once said “Amalawi sachedwa kuyiwala (Malawians forget quickly).” He was referring to the atrocities the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) committed during its 31 years in power under the reign of Kamuzu Banda. Ironically Muluzi was once MCP’s secretary general. In that position, he was the party’s second most influential man after Kamuzu. But when Muluzi was making that statement at a rally while campaigning for a third term, he rightly expected that Malawians had forgotten all that.

Former President Bakili Muluzi: Malawians forget quickly

The third term bid failed and Muluzi eventually settled for a Johnny-come-lately in Malawi’s politics, Bingu wa Mutharika, to succeed him.

Muluzi was right after all—that Malawians forget quickly. The famous or infamous Cashgate was first noted in 2005 although it was exposed in 2013. This is according to a forensic audit of the Government of Malawi by auditors—RSM Risk Assurance Services LLP of the United Kingdom (UK). Between 2009 and 2013 the malfeasance could no longer be kept under the carpet. By 2014, the malfeasance could no longer be swept under the carpet. Hard cash in millions of Kwacha was being kept or transported in car boots. But as they say, big things start with small people. A help hand spotted one of them and could not keep his mouth shut.

The Baker Tilly forensic audit which only picked six months of the 2009–2014 plunder—from April to September, 2013—uncovered that during this period alone, civil servants and businesspersons had looted K24 billion from the public purse.

Then there was the bigger Cashgate involving not K24 billion but K236 billion. Ten times bigger. When Rumphi East legislator Kamlepo Kaluwa was vocal about seven ministers in the Peter Mutharika administration who were alleged to have been mentioned in the K236 billion Cashgate report, the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) pounced on him. To silence him I suppose. And to punish him for his loud mouth. After that incident, Kamlepo was the last person to talk about the K236 billion looting. No-one in government wants to talk about that report. The issue now seems to be water under the bridge. With elections behind us, there must be huge relief among the seven ministers alleged to have been mentioned in the report because Malawians forgot about the issue. They are now focused on the court case about the May 21 elections.

When former Salima South Member of Parliament Uladi Mussa was acting People’s Party president, and was vocal against government, it (government) immediately went for him. He was alleged to have issued work permits and passports to undeserving immigrants. Now that he is politically correct after taking camouflage in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), that case is dead. As dead as a dodo. Malawians forgot about the issue.  The same Uladi Mussa who was being demonized while in opposition became a hero in DPP. He went on to win the party’s vice-presidency for the Centre.

How Malawi lost K236 billion will never be concluded under this regime. It is a forgotten issue. It is only you and me who have the cheek to talk about it. That forensic audit report (if any) for the whopping K236 billion looted from the public pulse between 2009 and 2014 was successfully swept under the carpet.

Of course, there have been other Cashgates like the 4.3 million liters of diesel which ‘guards’ drunk at Escom. It is now also water under the bridge. There is an audit report about materials worth over K10 billion which Escom procured and which may never be used in the next 10 years. Billions of Kwacha vanished at the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc). Mystery still surrounds the K1.9 billion of the K2.9 billion that Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) board approved to give to Admarc for maize purchases in 2016. Some 20 MPs embezzled Constituency Development Funds. These issues too are forgotten.

When the High Court ruled that there should be a recount of votes for Lilongwe South East constituency, someone in his wisdom decided that the best thing to do was to burn down the Malawi Electoral Commission warehouse which was housing the ballots. That too is a forgotten issue.

Meanwhile, donors are yet to return to Malawi for direct budget support, unshakable in their belief that Government’s Account Number One is a leaking bucket. They are dead right. The result is that the ultra poor continue to wallow in poverty as the gap between the rich and poor widens. Malawians have forgotten why they are in this predicament. Thst is why I say Muluzi was right after all. n

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Docus
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Docus

Yes, Mr Nhlane, we need journalism like this to be reminded! It seems this compination of power and money have taken over everything!
Therefore we need people like you to stand their ground and hold the red flag up !
Where are this reminder, who can resist the sweetness of power and money? I wish and pray we would have more of them, especially in politics and judiciary!

Thyolo Thava Boy
Guest

Uladi & Kamlepo are all under DPP`s wrap totally silenced. My message to DPP gurus you can bribe people by your fraudulent money which you get Asians like Zameer Kalim etc and other dubious means but please you MUST know that anything you are doing the eternal and righteous judge is watching you. One day each one of you individually will give account of it. MK236b is under carpet today but one day it will be on top of the surface. My prayer is start fearing God the creator of the heavens and the earth. Malawians are at pains because… Read more »

Winston Msowoya
Guest
Winston Msowoya

Malawians,if this obnoxious scandal came from the North,the entire country,could bark like hyena,but since the obnoxious scandal emanated from the God created two regions,everything is OKAY.

SAUNDERS
Guest
SAUNDERS

Joyce Banda, Khumbo Kachale and their Cronies are busy working with MCP to gain footage in the System. I wish MCP should stand on its own and win elections in future on a clean sheet

Achiswe'.'
Guest

Indeed, we Malawians are our own worst enemies. By forgetting these crimes against the electorate we simply encourage the same things to happen again. We have only ourselves to blame. If we let the wrongdoers get away with it, they will do the same again. And yet when we demonstrate against corruption we are silenced by the those who are supposed to uphold law and order, i.e. the Police and the MDF. We are caught in a cleft stick; such is life in Malawi under the DPP.

Njolo mpilu
Guest
Njolo mpilu

mwini tthako I second you. during his era my relative was in the US and durind his audience and the ministers with him mwians were encouraged do better and come back home to help develop the country. scholarship issue was discussed. guess what!!!!! it was Chapondas niece ( meanwhile caponda was at UN ,tell me if his needed scholaship)
Kandieros daughter, and another girl whosedad was quote a refuge in zambia because of mcp tryanny.
my relative had no name near the political circle.
thank you

Mwinithako
Guest
Mwinithako

I think the writer of this article is right by reminding us Malawians of our forgetfulness.What we are focusing will never win anything at all. I believe Malawi is a nation for those who are close to Politicians.I tried to associate with them in the 2000s.Hon Thengo Maloya the minister of land by then refused me when I wanted to ask for a fees top up under the Bakili Muluzi trust.Money was there in the trust from Muslim Asians,but we were denied access and Christian relatives for Muluzi’s friends the Maloya,the Jafu.The Mvulas were actually helped.God is good and has… Read more »

Njolo mpilu
Guest
Njolo mpilu

iyeso ali mommo. nothing tangible in mw. the poor goes poorer. anyway momwe amaonela. mugabe ma mansions hongkong, UK ku Essex mu Zim ma 25 ensuite rooms, swimming pools, manmade lakes,armoured german cars manufactured according to his specification,,swiss bank accounts, etc etc etc. and he preached to the UN summit members while his country’s basic food shelves stay empty.nice treatment in singapore rak8ng $12 million, chatered cargo plane, etc. now he goes into a hole without any of his worth. is it faire on us????? and here is 40 convoy superb cars, noone fight corruption than lip service, the nepotism,… Read more »

uncover malawi
Guest
uncover malawi

Exactly right!

Moto kuti Ziii
Guest
Moto kuti Ziii

That is why we need more Mtambos, Trapences, Semberekas, Mayayas above all more of Msundwe Special Forces. We are taken for fools because these politicians know that we just complain and no action.

Heaven Come
Guest
Heaven Come

hoping that the people whom you are mentioning are very clean. Do you really know these people? Don’t sell your country to another set of thieves.