Time to set standards in Malawi government

What is severely lacking in Malawi is a government which can accept responsibility and thereafter look for solutions to whatever situation the country is faced with.

Chiumia with President Mutharika
Chiumia with President Mutharika

Meanwhile, just like everyone else, government agrees that the country is facing a lot of problems, which include stagnant economy.

But what the government seems to not agree with is that it is responsible for most of the problems.

Probably, those in government do not realise that it is their policies being used to run the country.

At the moment, it is undeniable that the financial plunder of taxpayers’ money has really been a setback to the country’s economy.

When President Peter Mutharika came into power in 2014, he knew about all this.

Malawians might have hoped that his government would put a stop to the plunder and set good standards. Regrettably, recently large sums of money of more than K200 million was lost at the Malawi Embassy in Ethiopia.

In fact, almost every week there is some fraud story in the newspapers. This is a clear sign that the government reforms, which are supposed to seal all the loopholes, are not working. In this case, then government must accept responsibility and quickly find solutions before the country is milked dry.

Meanwhile, it is unfortunate that the government seems to wrongly perceive Cashgate as a thing which only happened during president Joyce Banda’s rule. In the process, it has failed to check corruption in the current government. All the expectations that Mutharika would set high standards in caring for public funds are now shattered. This will remain the same as long as the government continues to feel comfortable that corruption has been rampant even in the previous governments. This is very unfortunate to say the least. Honestly, there is need for a government which is capable of saying enough is enough and then draw a line to stop retrogressive practices such as corruption.

In the same vein of retrogressiveness, recently Minister of Sports and Culture Grace Chiumia was quoted as addressing President Mutharika as ‘Life President’. This attracted a lot of condemnation in the media. Most people looked at this as a worrisome development of bringing back the dictatorship, which we rejected in 1993.

Malawians know well about the making of a dictator and what Chiumia said was one of the ways. Assuming the minister wanted to test the waters on behalf of the DPP, then she got the message. The flood of condemnations forced her to apologise to Malawians as quoted in the newspapers that she did not really know what she had said.

One can only assume that Chiumia’s apology was genuine. If it is, she has set a very high standard which must be appreciated. It is common knowledge that Cabinet ministers or any of the people in government who give themselves self-importance, find it very difficult to apologise to anybody. One can only hope that one day some Cabinet ministers will shoulder responsibility and resign when something goes really wrong in their ministries.

For example, the current plunder at the Malawi Embassy in Ethiopia would have forced the responsible minister to resign. This would mean accepting responsibility for not being able to prevent the fraud.

One would have thought the public sector reforms would aim at setting high standards of performance. Unfortunately, this is yet to be seen and felt. It is hard even to notice that Reforms are taking place. Just talking about the reforms when there is nothing much on the ground, does not help

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