Talking Blues: It looked easy when the damn horse did it – the buck stops at Chakwera’s door

Lest I be ranked with Nero who was busy fiddling when Rome was burning, I will go straight to the point.To set the context, a factual timeline is necessary:

  • 31 Dec 2019: China reported the emergence of a new virus.
  • 20 Jan 2020: WHO declared Covid19 a global pandemic.
  • 20 Mar 2020: A State of Disaster was declared.
  • 1 Apr 2020: Malawi recorded its first Covid-19 case.
  • 1 May 2020: Reports – supported by a video – that Covid19 funds were being abused emerged and caught the Ombudsman’s eye.
  • 6 May 2020: Then-President Peter Mutharika replaced the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus with a multi-stakeholder Presidential Taskforce to fight Covid-19. Funds were mobilized and deployed.
  • 23 Jun 2020: Fresh Presidential Elections were conducted.
  • 6 Jul 2020: President Lazarus Chakwera ascended to the presidency on a platform of Servant leadership, Uniting Malawi, Prospering together, Ending corruption and Rule of law (Chakwera Super Hi5).
  • 27 Nov 2020: Martha Chizuma, the Ombudsman, released a report aptly titled “Misplaced priorities”.

The Ombudsman report details a litany of malpractices and maladministration and offers directives which, from what we have seen lately, fell on deaf ears.

Had the Ombudsman’s directives been heeded and action taken, “CovidGate” would not have happened.

More poignantly, the Ombudsman’s report urges the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to “comprehensively review the government allowances policies by making them more realistic, considerate to country’s economy and clearer to avoid abuses”.

This plea follows the finding that out of the MK75,601,589,262.43 (equivalent to USD102,580,175.39) almost 80% was used on allowances.

Thousands of Malawians have since been infected and hundreds have died due to lack of equipment or oxygen which the standard-setting Onjezani Kenani / Thandie Hara Initiative has managed to buy with a tiny fraction of the funds squandered in allowances.

Fast forward to 17 January 2021, incumbent President Lazarus Chakwera, having declared a state of national disaster a few days before, addressed the nation to report the actions “taken with his Covid-19 Taskforce to curb the pandemic”.

Switching on the full charm of his oratory skills, Chakwera rattled a series of expenditure amounts purportedly invested in fighting the pandemic.

This Chakwera MK6.2 billion Covid19 Financial Report has since been totally discredited.

Belatedly realizing he had peddled cooked figures, Chakwera did an about-face and informed Malawians that some controlling officers and heads of Covid clusters were yet to submit expenditure reports for the very MK6.2 billion Covid package he had already reported on.

“This is completely unacceptable. Therefore, I have summoned all controlling officers and heads of clusters to meet my [Presidential] Taskforce [on Covid] in 48 hours and account for how they used that money.

“Make no mistake: Any cluster that either fails to account for the money it received or is found to have abused their funds is a cluster in which heads will roll,” Chakwera said.

48 hours came and went. Not a single head has rolled, unless Chakwera meant his own rolling in flabbergasted “vexation”.

Otherwise, not a single head has rolled.

To prove Chakwera’s talk empty, Kondwani Nankhumwa, the Leader of Opposition is unimpressed and has since demanded a forensic audit to assess the damage.

As if to rub more dirt on Chakwera’s self-soiled halo, Nankhumwa – akin to the proverbial pot calling the kettle black – has threatened to quit the task force if the National Audit Office fails to conduct a comprehensive forensic audit of DODMA and all clusters.

The questions on every Malawian’s mind are:

  1. How did we get here?
  2. Of this mess, how much is attributable personally to Chakwera; how much is attributable to the rubble he inherited and how much is attributable to his own garbage?
  3. How the hell did the high-sounding principles espoused in Chakwera Hi5 sour to mirror the Mutharika era practice of prioritizing allowances at the expense of preventing deaths?
  4. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel?

Before I answer these questions, let me tell you something. You have all heard about the extortionate salaries that the former Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) governor and directors were drawing.

You are also probably aware that the new RBM leadership has agreed to re-align the salaries in line with our economy.

Further, you may have heard that all directors, except one, have accepted the re-aligned salary grades and rates.

Now, the dissenting director’s lawyer challenged the RBM. The letter, once received by the RBM, was relayed to OPC.

It sat in the SPC’s desk until someone plucked it from there and redirected it to the Attorney General for rebuttal on the penultimate day.

Put differently, had someone not intervened, and the director’s dissent had gone unchallenged; that director would have remained on the old salary grade earning a higher salary than the Governor.

Where does that happen?

To mince no words, this particular buck literally stopped at the SPC’s desk, and for whatever reason, the gentleman failed to see the urgency of the matter. And this lack of urgency in the OPC is the root of all the issues Malawians are unhappy with under Chakwera‘s leadership: too much talk that is followed up by zero action.

I now go back to our questions; how did we get here?

We are here because President Chakwera is failing to see through the actions and inaction of the people he has delegated various responsibilities to. Hence his being made to look like a fool on 17 January 2021.

Our second question is: how much of this mess is attributable personally to Chakwera; or to the rubble he inherited and or to his own garbage?

The answer is that the buck stops at Chakwera’s door.

While the inherited rubble is partly responsible, it only exists because Chakwera tolerates it. The garbage Chakwera brought in is also not exempt. If anything, it is compounding the mess. Hence, Chakwera – as the principle – must own the mess.

Our third question is: what happened to the principles espoused in Chakwera Hi5?

Chakwera was willing to say or do anything for votes in his quest for power. As a result, he made promises he could not deliver.

It looked simple when Mutharika was bungling. Chakwera has since eaten his words and unilaterally withdrawn his promises.

“It looked easy when the damn horse did it,” said the distressed cow impaled on a fence it had tried to jump after watching a horse gracefully do that.

This is where we are. That is what we have. Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Yes and No.

If Chakwera is courageous enough to radically reconstitute his administration from top to bottom, yes.

However, if Chakwera continues to believe he has the right people surrounding him; no light at all, only darkness.

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Witness
5 months ago

Yes

chaiwone wawo
5 months ago

O chakwera kusamva kukupweteketsani. nkale anthu ayamba kukuuzani kuni muchotse anthu omwe akuzungulirani omwe this far adetsa kale mbili yanu and they are not working but getting rich. Mverani zonena za wanthu. Your aim should not be to please MCP. You should aim at pleasing Malawians

Ndafera Nkhande
Ndafera Nkhande
5 months ago

O dala o Chakwera alibe vuto lina liri lonse,.Mukudziwa kuti kulamula dziko si munthu mmodzi ayi chifukwa a pulezidrnt samakhala ponseponse ngati mulungu .Odala o Chakwera adapeza anthu ku likulu la boma omwe ali ma tsotsi pa nkhani ya kuononga chuma cha boma.Skunali koyenera kuti iwo achotse anthuwa popeza ndiwo tmadalira paukadaulo wawo.Choncho inu ogwira nchito mboma musalakwitse o Chakwera chifukwa cha dyera lanu pa maalawansi.Tikudziwa kuti ogwira nchito mboma ndi masapota s azipani zosiyana siyana koma sibwino kumachita ukambrembere pamene anzanu alowa mboma.Malawi ndi wa tonse tiyeni tisiye kuononga zinthu za boma monga ndalama .

Castello
Castello
5 months ago

Chakwera is not leadership material, anasiya za mulungu nkutenga zadziko, Mulungu angakondwere naye? Mbuzi imeneyi yazondotsa kale Malawi in just 7 months, kodi kuthere zaka 5 Malawi akhala Ali pati? Chilimatu akuwufuna udindo ija kwambiri and anadziwa kuti nkuluyu ndichitsiru, ndipange campaign yoti idzamkanike then ndidzalowepo, ndi chifukwa wangophoza. Yes let’s start blaming the stupid judges, chilima and the big fool chakwera, atilowetsa mmatope, kususuka

Chakwera
Chakwera
5 months ago

The leadership of this beautiful country shud resign.

Simunakwanitse ndi one yr yomwe.

Chilima should not just stay quiet..Speak up ngati uli mfana,oganiza bho

Segwe
Segwe
5 months ago

Chakwera and Chilima shud resign.!!!

Mavuto
5 months ago

Chakwela is doing a better job than the sleeping guy who is now at Nyekhwe palace. That one did completely nothing. He was just sleeping and eating our money while millions were being stollen. We are better under Chakwela than under that other dude who was senile on the job. ‘It was easier when that dude was there’ and it will continue to be easy because all the problems will be addressed with time. One thing people have to remember is that the system continues to remain rotten because the cadets are still in the system and are shielded by… Read more »

George Kamanga
George Kamanga
5 months ago

Agalu, zitsiru za DPP mukunana. Peter Arthur Mutharika was the worst leader. Thousands were drawing salaries from government funds but yet employed by the government. Thousands of zitsiru za alomwe were getting thousands of litres of fuel from government funds yet not government employees. In our public hospitals we had fuel shortage but the cadets were drawing thousands of litre. Inu ndinu agalu ndipo mbuzi. Mukhaura. Billions of kwachas were stolen under Peter Arthur Mutharika. Under another Mutharika Billions of kwachas were plundered. Mufuna munamize ndani. DPP mukhala kunja mpaka kalekale. Onani mera kumunda uli biriwiri koma under DPP malawians… Read more »

Atokwene
Atokwene
5 months ago

We told Malawians that’ Abusa. Lazaro has no experience in running government affairs. Many disputed this fact. Lero anthu akuba ndalama za boma za covid 19 Koma iwo sakudziwa kali Konse. Nawo achilima angoti chilili Poteropo mkwayang’ana ati zake izo paja wa pakaliyala saimba belu . Zavuta pa Malawi utsogoleri wa Abusa watigwetsera ku dzenje . Kalanga Ine. Malawi wolomera tonse uja alikuti???

Nyusesi
5 months ago

Shame to the tumbuka judiciary for selling government to Chakwera for a song. Ours is a miscarriage of justice. The stupid Hi5 judges found no evidence of rigging in the 2019 elections and yet they directed for a rerun. What kind of justice was that? Lero ndiizo Chakwera is simply clueless on how to run government. Shame to tumbuka courts.

VYOTO
VYOTO
5 months ago
Reply to  Nyusesi

You DPP cadet, be reminded that DPP was far much worse than Tonse Government, it was booted out of Government and it will die in opposition. Chakwera is a listening president and action-oriented, he has already taken action on Co task Chair, Dr. Phuka, Commissioner of DODMA, James Chiusiwa. Chakwera has talked of restructuring of Government systems on allowances, procurement, and contracts, something that DPP never did in its 14 years in power. Maize production will hit unprecedented tonnages something that DPP never achieved in its 14 years of rule.

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