Civil Society organisations on Thursday delivered a petition demanding transparency, accountability and an end to impunity to parliament through the Vice Chairperson of Public Accounts Committee, Kamlepo Kalua MP.
The petitioners bemoan high levels of corruption, politicization of governance institutions, threats to human rights defenders, persistent water shortages and electricity blackouts, nepotism and a collapsing economy.
Let me begin, Blues’ Orators, by saying that all these ills and the sick economy that Dr. Goodal Gondwe surrendered to the Almighty some time back, are not new.They have been with us from time immemorial.
What is new is President Peter Mutharika’s failure to fulfil the promises he made when he was roaming all over Malawi pleading for our votes.
The contract he signed with us, as per Chapter 4 of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) manifesto, is clear on graft.
“Corruption,” it says, “is an enemy of growth, distribution and prosperity. Corruption in any form robs the people, especially the poor, of their legitimate right to economic prosperity by diverting resources away from public economic and social development, into the private pockets of a few.”
It expresses deep concern with the escalating levels of corruption in Malawi since the coming into government by the People’s Party in mid-2012, and laments our loss of billions of public funds through “Cashgate.”
Then it reiterates the DPP’s Zero Tolerance to Corruption, fraud, theft, smuggling and any other economic crimes and vows to act against corruption by implementing, inter alia, the following measures:
(a) Strengthening the financial management system for detection of corruption, and ensuring investigation, prosecution and punishment of all public officers found guilty of corruption, theft, mismanagement, and abuse of power in all its forms;
(b) Empowering the offices of the Auditor General, Public Accounts Committee and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, to ensure that all officials in these and other institutions entrusted with public funds shall be professional and fully accountable and transparent with regard to their mandate; and
(c) Reviewing the Procurement Act and ensure that it is non-political.
While these, if implemented could lessen corruption incidences, it has since transpired that the DPP wasn’t planning to deliver on any of these.
In fact, it appears that a pact of thieves was made amongst DPP gurus not to interfere with each other’s looting exertions.
Let me put this context.
Has DPP strengthened our financial management system? Other than Dr George Chaponda, who else from the DPP echelons, has been “investigated, prosecuted and punished” for corruption, theft, mismanagement, and abuse of power in all its forms?
On empowering the offices of the Auditor General, Public Accounts Committee and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, to ensure that all officials … are “professional and fully accountable and transparent with regard to their mandate”; can you name one thing, just one, that Mutharika has done?
Didn’t, on the contrary and at Mutharika’s bidding, pro-Government MPs frustrate a private member motion intended to reinforce the ACB?
It’s partner-in-government, the United Democratic Front (UDF) was even more fiery in its Agenda for Change manifesto.
“Malawi’s accountability institutions are weak. Most Malawians feel powerless… lack political influence, even though they are in majority.”
Nothing and no-one could have summed up our distress better.
It continues: “Malawi’s political elites feel responsible to their own groups rather than to society as a whole and they govern in the interests of their own group. Ordinary Malawians excluded from power find it difficult to seek redress.”
Nothing and again no-one could have described the impunity we are suffering under the yoke of the joint DPP/UDF government better.
“Key institutions,” continues the UDF Manifesto, “meant to bring checks on the executive-parliament, the courts, media, political parties, civil society etc. are not empowered to do their job, do not coordinate and are at times undermined by corruption and violence.”
The UDF then swore to:
(a) Strengthen mandates and increase the budgets for Anti-Corruption Bureau, Auditor General, Accountant Generals Offices, Parliament;
(b) Establish an independent, effective and highly specialised, prosecution driven anti-corruption unit to ensure that corrupt persons in both the public and private sector are caught and held to account; and
(c) Prohibit public servants and public representatives from doing business with the state.
Other than Lucius Banda MP, I don’t recall any other UDF MP supporting Hon Louis Chakhwantha’s motion.
Other than Lucius Banda MP, I haven’t heard any UDF MP, let alone the face of the Agenda for Change, Atupele Muluzi MP, expressing disgust at Chaponda’s maizegate or the MK236 billion cashgate which is the genesis of cashgate.
Now, on top of all this, it is very painful to learn that instead of taking action on the findings of the forensic audit, Goodal and company have found a way to further protect the thirteen companies plus five families fingered therein in addition to the the seven infamous ministers whose involvement keeps stubbornly resurfacing, by allocating MK500 million for yet another audit of the same MK236 billion.
What value will this audit add? What more do the prosecutors need to effect arrests other than the forensic tips and analysis they got from RSM?
For crying out aloud, after an audit way before Bingu wa Mutharika passed on revealed that MK577 billion had been squandered, and after the forensic analysis by RSM Risk Assurance LLP covering 2009 to 2014 revealed bid rigging linked to businesses owned by at least five families, the next logical step ought to be arrests, prosecutions and convictions.
Why are we going back to yet another audit? To what end if not to cover tracks and allow criminals to torch offices?
And Mutharika and his band of robbers have the nerve to dream of winning in 2019? Ine nilibe porobulem (I have no problem) with this fantasy because even eunuchs can and do dream of parenthood.
Dream on APM, but take note: once the Electoral Reforms materialise, the people will have the last laugh 2019 onwards. Deliver on transparency, accountability and end impunity, or else…
- The article first appeared in Sunday Times