To bring development into a country is not equal to borrowing more money from IMF or the World Bank, plus any other foreign country which has funds to lend. To get developed, which most countries in Africa, including Malawi, are crying for, is to first get rid of stumbling blocks which are enemies of development.
In fact, it would be nice to borrow a leaf from Rwanda and Tanzania, which are now believed to be developed and middle-standard developed respectively. More importantly, is to ask how they did it, especially on how they dealt with corruption, which is one of the main stumbling blocks for progress.
Meanwhile, it is obvious that corrupt people and thieves in both Rwanda and Tanzania had been subjected to severe punishment for them not to repeat. In the process, both countries were free from these people.
In Malawi, the culture of corruption and stealing from the government has been going on for a very long time and, to be exact, since Malawians attained multiparty democracy in 1994. It has taken so long to the extent that some people take it as an accepted culture in the country. This is more so because the Heads of State were doing nothing to stop it.
The main reason for being silent was believed to be some of the thieves and corrupt people were funding the ruling parties. Therefore, it was right and proper to the leadership not to bite the finger that was feeding them.
The silence of the leaders naturally made people to believe that they were also just as corrupt and engage in stealing. This was evidently clear from some who came to power very poor, only to claim that they were rich after ruling for some time and probably finding ways and means of abusing public funds to the extent of becoming billionaires.
Whether by design or coincidence, it has to take an MCP President, under Tonse Alliance, to decisively deal with corruption and stealing in government. As Malawians are aware, during Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s era no one could dare to be corrupt, let alone steal from government. If found, the punishments were severe, including long imprisonment.
So far, President Chakwera and Vice-President Chilima have shown that they are ready to decisively deal with corruption and stealing in government. In Malawi there is a bad culture of abuse of funds which are available for the needy in a point in time such as hunger, disabled people and now Covid-19.
Abusers are not small men but people who know better the proper use of the money. They look at the funds, which are usually in billions, and think it is time to get rich from the presumed free-for-all funds.
Abusers get hold of the money through allowances after some fake meetings or by joining supply chains for requirements and charge exorbitantly for their goods and services. This is after some arrangements with people who do procurement. This had been the case with money for Covid–19 during Mutharika’s presidency. A lot of money was lost. Since some civil servants had mastered the practice, it has continued in the Tonse Alliance administration. While Mutharika was silent about it, Chakwera has assured all Malawians that he will get behind it and will deal with suspects.
Due to frequent reports about how the money is being used in government, it did not take long for Chakwera to know that about six billion kwacha for Covid-19 has been stolen or abused. He quickly asked for investigative audit for him to take action. As soon as the report came out, the police started arresting suspects mentioned in the report.
In addition, the Labour minister who was a suspect got suspended from his post though he repaid the money. Within two weeks of making arrests, about 61 people were arrested. President Chakwera is the first to do this in a democratic Malawi. Both him and Chilima have displayed their boldness and sooner than later corruption and stealing will be history in Malawi.