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Monday, October 7, 2013

The buck stops with President Joyce Banda: Malawi's corruption scandals

There are others who firmly believe that the recent spate of arrests indicate a crisis requiring that President Joyce Banda should step down. Well, Malawians voted on June 14, 1993 for multiparty democracy and in some cases we have come to accept that we have some Civil Society Leaders that speak before they think. The only consolation is that they are not elected by anybody and their organisations have failed the  minimum benchmarks of democracy that what comes out of their mouths should never ever be taken seriously.
But one thing that we all agree as Malawians, everyone is very angry. We are all angry with the plunder and looting that is being exposed almost on daily basis by law enforcement agencies. This is the first time in the history of Malawi that the large scale theft at Capital Hill is being exposed at such scale.
The only other time it happened was the K187 million Education scandal that saw it shake the political establishment in 2001 then equivalent of USD5million where contractors were paid for works not done.
Only Secretary for Education Dr. Sam Safuli spent sometime in jail and a few others, the rest had everything dropped or cases running for 10 years that prosecuting them had become more costly than leaving them free after freezing their assets.
The next big thing were payments to one Asian supplier by Malawi Police Service of close to K802 million which the Auditor General, then Reckford Kampanje helped defend the Nation after the Asian, helped by a politician almost sued the Nation newspaper. Nothing was heard of this USD3 million dollars equivalent of fraud or the many accompanying fraudulent activities that were unearthed in July 2011. Later in the year, I did a story of the K400 million cash scandal (equivalent of USD2.5million) at Police and another K404 million.
My senior colleague at the newspaper unearthed the link of the last K404 million all the way to State House, MDF and other Government departments where by April 2012, at least K2 billion (almost USD10 million) had disappeared through Government systems.
In short, the looting in Government seemed to have found its way when a few people were paid billions in contracts since 2005 while the small scale businesses suffered from interests as loans accumulated as Government did not pay them.
I know one flamboyant businessman who used to come at Capital Hill, collected a K1 billion cheque payment at the Accountants Generals office while a widow waited for K200,000 for years to pay school fees for her kids or a pensioner who had his last take home reduced by a formula some "matchona' thought would make them richer.
Looting at Capital Hill has been a tradition and we all wondered which President would be bold to crack the system. The system so entrenched and the system that in many cases does not spare the political establishment.
When Joyce Banda went on podium to announce that Paul Mphwiyo's shooting was part of effort to fight influential and corrupt network, many did not give her a chance. They condemned her and many thought she was politicking.
Then the arrests came from all corners, in panic people cashed money and took it home, thinking at least I should have something when they find out.
The fraud network has come to a crashing halt and nobody in his right senses can today go and cash a fraudulent cheque, they know the "Big Sister" is watching.
But what comes out of our Civil Society, she should go, she has failed. Seriously, an opposition Leader thinks she has failed by not arresting the 'big fish' while another hallucinates that we should have a Government of national unity to check corruption.
One thing nobody tells you is whether President Joyce Banda is doing something right by arresting these people or not. Whether she should stop and declare war on corruption as successful as her predecessor did when he arrested Dr. Bakili Muluzi for K1.7 billion, Mr. Yusuf Mwawa for K160,000 wedding and later Secretary to Treasury Kutengule for almost announcing that most of the payments to the DPP functionaries were approved by the President himself.
Malawians, just like in the Education scandal or even the Mwanza murders case, Chasowa murder case and every other controversial matter are justified to think a big fish are involved. Many demand instant justice. But as we learnt in Mwanza Murders case, the Late Aaron Gadama was killed, the Late David Chiwanga was killed, the Late Dick Matenje was indeed killed and the Late Sangala was indeed murdered in cold blood by their political enemies. Police officers confessed on record, but the one who issued the order was never captured to this day. Names flew, but nobody after a costly trial of International Lawyers ever spent a day in  jail for their murder.
The same with Chasowa, Education and other scandals, the 'big fish" can be named on Facebook, arrested briefly, but there will never be evidence to prosecute them unless, the 'small fish' are turned into witnesses.
I am not saying Paul Mphwiyo cannot identify or explain circumstances of his fight, but can he produce evidence enough to convict the political, top Civil Service and even other Civil Society beneficiaries of this wide network of fraud.
Yes, the beneficiaries of the huge amounts looted, not the K3 million or K2 million being found in boots. These are kids in the game, they saw the loophole and made a 'get quick stupid decision'. They never meant harm but poverty forced them would be their weak excuse.
Catching big fish is what we all expect, but do it that we should for once see results. I have noticed many on social media flying names, allegations and weird amounts in billions. It is nice to damage others, but they can take action too and many will miserably fail to prove our excitement that ABC were involved. Lets wait for investigations, lets wait for Paul Mphwiyo to return, lets wait for JB to walk her talk.
But looking at the larger picture, President Joyce Banda offered herself that she is aware, publicly announced so. Asking her to resign is something that borders to strange thinking that she should not tell Malawians ho did it.
May be the ones who want her gone, only 8 months before elections have a lot to benefit from ensuing electoral, economic and constitutional chaos should the President be emotional and leave.
Why not give the President a rope and see if she will hung on it, ask her to walk her promise and tell voters your judgement?
Why the rush for "Government of National Unity of academics, Civil Society and even us Journalists" as John Kapito is quoted calling for. Serious, people that have miserably failed to account their NGOs funding, cut off from many donors want to go to Capital Hill in the name of 'corrupt free' to do what "plunder, plunder and plunder more.'
In justice they say, he who seeks equity must come with clean hands. How many clean hands do we have in Malawi Congress Party- yes those Leaders whose account numbers can show strange deposits, yes those in the Democratic Progressive Party whose account numbers, cash and vehicle deliveries need to be audited their source, yes I mean some in UDF and some in Peoples Party. 
How many are clean and can survive a 10 year scrutiny that we need from the day then Director of Public Prosecutions Fahad Assad declared that 30 percent, yes one third of the national resources are drained through corruption or fraud in Government.
How many parties in Parliament, yes those that receive my taxes as Parliamentary funding or Constituency Development Fund can ably account for them without being sent to Fiscal Police for "help in accounting."
Malawi, not the President is rotten. We have no ethical values and we have reactionary and emotional Civil Society that wakes up, think of chaos or meeting opportunities without considering short or long term solutions.
We have failed Leadership in some of our CSOs that when they open their mouths, chaos and not solutions come out of their mouths.
As legal experts have said, the President is not going anywhere. Even if people went and burnt everything, there is no provision of what John Kapito is thinking or saying. Its a non starter.
For political parties those that have already started building excuses of a loss in 2014, simple why not wait for May 2014, use the corruption scandal as a good excuse to get rid of Joyce Banda and her Peoples Party. That is if most of us wont be locked for being beneficiaries of IFIMS for long time.
"The evil that men do lives after them" Somewhere, some century ago Shakespeare wrote. Someone was good at creating "corruption stories for others" today, cant wait to see how much he is worthy as the President cracks the whip higher.
To many of us, the buck stops with President Joyce Banda, she has the tough talk she started when she declared that she was fighting corruption. She does not need to resign, but fight every step of the way, make tough decisions, make enemies with former allies and come out clean in this fight.
Anything less, angry Malawians, not the illusions of the Civil Society, but real voters will punish her for the systems created by her predecessors.
The buck stops with you Madame President.


1 comment:

Frances Simwinga said...

Great reading. And to what extent has the ACB exercised its indepence in all these scandal? oh my tax!!!!!