“Muthandiza olemera kale pamene osauka akuona” –Billy Kaunda
What is the difference between the so-called ‘cashgaters’ and the cabal that nearly sucked the life out of the potentially biggest bank in the country, the Malawi Savings Bank (MSB), with their toxic loans? As we say in our street language, the difference is the same.
Yes, the latter robbed us blind by fleecing MSB of billions while the former did the same by playing Monopoly with our tax money. Perhaps the only difference is that the former will go through court processes where some of them will get jail terms, never mind that some – if not most as we have already started seeing – will get away with just a slap on the wrist.
The latter, however, is one hell group of lucky bastards – they have not only been bailed out using money from the same taxes from whence they robbed; they have also been given a chance to rob public banks more. If you do not believe me, did you not hear that one of these bank robbers, for that is what they are, put in a bid when another set of government-owned shares in a certain bank also went up for grabs?
I know some apologists will jump to defend government’s senseless decision, claiming that Treasury has bailed out nobody from responsibility of repaying the money. They will quote Nations Msowoya, him whose thankless job is to explain away government’s oft twisted finance management logic.
Nations says government forked out the billions to save the bank from sinking but no tax money will be lost because government is setting up a Debt Collection Unit. C’mon, good people, you do not need to be an economist to realise that that is pure balderdash.
Look, MSB as a registered bank, has legal avenues to force these defaulters to repay the money. The bank, for example, can repossess businesses and other properties to recover the same. If these cannot satisfy the loan the bank can go for the jugular and declare these defaulters bankrupt which can preclude them from bidding for any elective position or from registering another business.
But because these folks are well-connected the bank can dare do none of the above.
Now if a legally-constituted bank has failed to read the riot act to these bank robbers, how do you expect a unit set up at the pleasure of the same Executive that is actually backing the same frauds to succeed? You must be a fundamentalist optimist to believe in that miracle! Besides, while MSB has the law behind any of its actions, the so-called Debt Collection Unit will have no backing of any Act of Parliament. It will simply be ignored!
If truth be told, the Debt Collection Unit will just be another ruse for giving plum jobs to political apparatchik and tribesmen who cannot be incorporated into the Cabinet, diplomatic postings or on parastatal boards. Unit members, never mind that they will be at Capital Hill illegally, will be allocated huge gas guzzlers and fat salaries but they will not attempt to go after these bank robbers.
But the sad thing is that, while government is ready to pay off loans the bourgeoisie among us willingly and forcefully obtained, thousands of qualified teachers and medics – on whom government spent billions to train – are unable to be employed because Capital Hill cannot find money to incorporate them in the system. And yet there are thousands of yawning vacancies in the civil service.
As Billy Kaunda lamented in the quote above, the poor who woke up in the morning to put some privileged folks in State House, at Capital Hill or in town halls will just be salivating as a clique of selfish elites share the national cake among themselves while them – who are tantalised as masters – will not even sniff the pleasant smell of the crumbs.