Last month I had a chance of being trained by a certain international Nongovernmental Organization. During the introductions the trainer who was an expatriate introduced her position at the NGO as technical specialist, and she added “I don’t even know what that means or what my job description is.” Two weeks later the immigration department busted her and some fellow expatriates at the NGO for illegal stay in the country. They were given two days to leave the country and are now “safely” home.
This is but an example of what is happening in the NGO world. Where money that was meant to develop our country finds itself back to where it came from through subtle means like creating positions that don’t mean anything and employing expatriates.
How much of the billions that are sent to our country really benefit the locals? We may find that close to half of that money does not reach us. If it’s not spent on paying for services like technical support, it is used to pay expatriate staff most of whom don’t know what they are here for or are doing a job which a local can do better.
One painful thing is that most of the expat staff doesn’t pay tax because their positions are disguised as voluntary. And yet they are paid hefty allowances which make the salary of a local employee look like peanuts, an allowance that enables them to spend every weekend at the lake when their local salaried workmates can’t even afford to spend a weekend at Malingunde dam.
With Cashgate the culprits were Malawians, and they invested the money in Malawi, the outlook of our city changed with their mansions. But when the donors give billions and half of the money goes back to their own countries it leaves the country as poor as ever.
The large amounts that are siphoned back home or that don’t even make it into the country make Cashgate sound like a petty crime. It’s like dangling a piece of meat to a starving child and then throwing it back into the pot. It’s a crime against humanity.
As if that is not enough, the NGO world is rife with issues of micro management. They employ a local country director and use him or her as a puppet. with all the decisions coming from overseas. No wonder some of the projects being implemented aren’t even compatible with Malawian life and once the project has phased out the locals abandon them
The whole thing reminds me of what happens during funerals where you hear announcements like, “Mr. so and so has condoled the family with ten thousand kwacha, nine thousand of which has already been used” it makes me ask myself why not just announce that they have condoled the family with one thousand kwacha.
So while you point a finger at us for swindling your money through Cashgate, remember the other fingers are pointing at you. But beggars are not choosers, let your will prevail.