The law commands everyone in the country to reject and report corruption. Failing to do so is a crime. It, therefore, makes little sense for anyone, especially a Cashgate convict to look angelic by trying to report corruption long after being convicted. Why did you not say so before? You cannot say I was told such and such got the lion’s share of the loot many years after you have feasted on the same. Sorry, it is too late.
The noble thing to do is to nip corruption in the bud—reject and report it—just when it is happening and not after you have benefitted from it. Corruption is evil and reporting it only when the fortieth day has come and the noose is tightening around your neck smacks of fishy business. This should be the message to all those who intend to engage in corruption or those who engaged in it and are now failing to extricate themselves from the vice.
As I am writing now, the country’s perception rating on corruption on the global scene is the worst for many decades. When a third of the taxpayer money is looted and then government is busy shielding the suspected looters this is what can happen to a country.
For example, Malawians want to see everyone and every company mentioned in the K577 billion PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) graft report now reduced to K236 billion, named, shamed and tried in a court of law. There are 13 case files which the Auditor General submitted to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) over eight months ago for further investigations and action. But for obvious reasons there is feet-dragging on the issue. This is, to say the least, worrisome and it is what gives this country a bad rating on corruption. It is ironical that with all this rot happening under its watch, the leadership still wants to portray itself as committed to fighting the vice.
It is for this reason that I want to applaud the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) board for sending on forced leave the corporation’s chief executive officer (CEO) to pave the way for investigations in alleged underhand dealings in the purchase of 100 000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia at a dizzying $34.5 million (K26 billion), K9 billion more expensive than what the maize should have been bought at. But it did not have to take the whole country to scream against the alleged corrupt deal and some civil society bodies threatening mass demonstrations for the board to see sense and be moved into action by doing the needful.
The same government which suspended the CEO for the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) and the organisation’s finance director when Mera spent K2.9 billion to procure maize for the same Admarc should not have waited to be forced to suspend the Admarc CEO for what is evidently a bigger scandal. Why did government have to be prodded to suspend the Admarc boss for this?
By the way, was the maize really bought and did Admarc receive it, or the money went elsewhere? Why can’t Parliament push for an independent audit of Admarc to verify that the K2.9 billion was really used to procure maize? Why am I the only one who smells a rat about how the money was used? I strongly suspect the statement that the money was used to buy maize for Admarc was just a cover up for something else. If Admarc or government has contrary information let them put it in the public domain and shame the devil.
In fact, the Admarc saga—about procurement of maize using Mera funds and from Zambia—should serve as a warning to all CEOs and senior public officers on the need to refuse to be used by whosoever in underhand activities that may land them in problems. My gut feeling is that the Admarc CEO like the suspended Mera officials are just sacrificial lambs.
That is why I will forever commend former Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) finance director Mrs. Mary Mahuka for refusing to be part and parcel of underhand dealings rampant at Escom when she opted to resign from her position rather than betray her conscience. Mahuka refused to be a signatory to some cheques that would have seen billions of kwachas leaving Escom in payments she felt were unmerited.
And not long after this, it pleased the President to remove the Army Commander Ignacio Maulana when he vehemently refused to authorise purchase of some equipment that he and a committee deemed not necessary at the time. Who could have known better what the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) needed more than some politician far removed from the operations of the MDF, but who, in documents that were put in the public domain, was bent on seeing the deal done and dusted at the speed of lightening?
Which takes me to former Blantyre City mayor Noel Chalamanda who lost to his deputy Wild Ndipo in the mayoral elections held on Monday this week. Chalamanda was a performer. The marks he has left behind are very visible and will be seen and remembered long after he is out of the mayoral robes. Sadly Malawi is still too much steeped in politics of patronage. This is what happens when the only credentials that matter for one to get a job are one’s political affiliation. n