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Talking Blues: Malawi govt fiscal chief Goodall has committed a crime that warrants prosecution

In 2005 the current Finance Minister Goodal Gondwe, serving or rather self-serving in a similar capacity, lost us US$6.8 million (MK4.8 billion at current exchange rates) in a suspicious fertilizer deal during the inaugural Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) for the 2005/06 farming season.

The Treasury, then under Goodal, sought technical expertise from the Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) on importing 70,000 MT of fertilizer.

Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi – SFFRFM dully provided sound advice which Goodal chose to completely ignore, opting to award the contract to a Saudi Arabian firm only he knew about.

After investigation, the Anti – Corruption Bureau Malawi (ACB) found that Gondwe had indeed acted corruptly, but somehow, failed to prove that Goodall’s palms had been greased.

How? Search me! But prove the ACB did that Goodal had lost us MK4.8 billion.

Now, Goodal and MK4 Billion or figures in that region, are no strangers to controversy.

This week, the same Goodal, self-serving again as Minister of Finance and his Local Government counterpart – Kondwani Nankhumwa, failed to explain how they allocated K4 billion to 86 constituencies.

Neither could the two explain the source of these funds.

Goodall purported that the money is from taxes, grants and borrowing and represents savings from cuts in the 2017/18 development budget.

Said Gondwe: “We came out with some money. I was told, and I agreed with it, that this money could be used more effectively in rural areas where it could sink boreholes, repair schools and build roads.

“So, I told Kondwani Nankhumwa that in my view, this money could be earmarked for rural areas. The village or area development committees would decide what projects would be done.”

Attempting to dissociate himself from any illegality, he continued: “At that point I don’t know what Nankhumwa did, but from what he tells me, he asked a number of MPs to submit proposals of what kind of development projects they wanted. Some did, others did not. I gather he had a list of parliamentarians who were to benefit, even opposition MPs were on the list, including Hon Kamlepo Kalua,” said Gondwe.

On his part, Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo disowned the MK4 billion, pointing his fingers straight at Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

“It is within the budget, especially the budget of Local Government and the Principal Secretary for Local Government is the one who can explain which vote the money is coming from,” he said.

However, neither Nankhumwa nor the ministry’s spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho could pinpoint the exact source of the MK4 billion, as if it is petty cash which had been accidentally discovered laying in a drawer.

Nankhumwa decided that ignorance is his best defence, saying: “This issue is a technical matter. I am not competent enough to explain on the same level as the Minister of Finance, so let him explain it.”

The long and short of it is that while Goodal is keen to push the ball to Nankhumwa, Nankhumwa is equally adamant that this is Goodal’s baby; and this irresponsibility smacks of criminality.

It stinks and this is why all eyes are on the ACB. Goodal shouldn’t slip away again.

“The bureau has recorded a statement on the matter based on media reports. The bureau will review the complaint to assess if there is merit to warrant its action,” the ACB spokesperson told one media house.

Look here Blues’ Orators, the same Treasury that has cut expenditure due to inadequate funding; the same Treasury that has been busy faulting the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) for failing the nation; wakes up one day to find that it has MK4 billion to spare.

Then Gondwe consults Nankhumwa, and Nankhumwa produces a list of 86 members of Parliament (MPs) who had allegedly submitted proposals, as if they are NGO operators.

You know what I think?

Goodal’s behaviour, is at best: the proof we needed that he is way past his-best-sale-by-date and at worst: the confirmation of our worst nightmare that the man can’t and shouldn’t be trusted with a single cent.

Check this: just when Goodal has managed to convince us that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is infested with mismanagement, and as if to prove his assertion, there are some MPs with cases to answer; he wakes up this week to say: “IF I had MK5 billion, I could have given the MK5 billion to this experiment,” the experiment being throwing good money after bad into the abuse-prone CDF!

Who does that? Taking us all for fools, senility, or insanity, or a bit of all these?

The truth of the matter is that the MK4 billion, like the thirty pieces of silver for which Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, is blood money.

It is blood money because the 86 MPs who were supposed to pocket it betrayed Malawi on the much needed Electoral Reforms, without which we will continue approaching forthcoming elections with fear.

Forget about Malawi Congress Party (MCP)’s inability to craft a winning strategy and listen up.

After the 2014 Elections, MCP cried foul and demanded a recount which DPP vigorously resisted.

IF DPP won fair and square – without rigging – why fear a recount?

Or better still: how does one explain Lilongwe City South East, where MCP candidate Ulemu Msungama was robbed the election; a DPP MP was sworn in; when Msungama went to court, ballot papers miraculously caught fire; only for the courts to nullify the result and Msungama to trounce DPP’s Reuben Ngwenya with 6 722 votes of the 11 616 to 3 597 in by-elections?

IF a national recount or an audit had been conducted, would the presidential results have stood scrutiny?

We can’t continue conducting elections using the same framework that produced the Lilongwe City South East façade and hope that all victims of rigging will turn the other cheek.

One day someone will refuse to turn the other cheek and blood will be shed.

This is why I submit that Goodal-Nankhumwa’s 86 MPs are no different from Judas.

Coming back to their paymaster Goodal, what remains is for ACB to teach him and others a lesson that what he had intended to do: bribing MPs for betraying a whole nation, is corruption. Full stop.

This here is a rock solid case of attempted corruption and hence a genuine probe is the least we Malawians deserve.

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