There are quite a few of them around. They do nothing of note other than seeking publicity and speaking for their masters. Do not be cheated about their agenda. There is no free lunch. They are lucratively remunerated for making that noise. One mercenary briefcase non-governmental organisation (NGO) is Malawi Watch, owned by Billy Banda.
Malawi Watch is a political construct from the Bakili Muluzi administration. Like all owners of briefcase NGOs in the country, Banda is founder, CEO, spokesperson, messenger and watchman—all rolled up in one person—of Malawi Watch. You don’t see anything else this NGO does apart from sanitising and mopping up the mess created by its political masters.
When Muluzi left and DPP came on the scene, Banda quickly morphed into a DPP stooge. He became a strong supporter and defender of the Bingu regime and later APM’s administration. In between the Bingu and APM’s administrations, as a DPP bootlicker Banda was an acidic critic of the JB administration.
Not surprisingly, Billy Banda’s narrative now is that the Tonse administration’s crack down on corruption and fraud is witch-hunting. He says the new government should forget the past and forgive those who plundered the public coffers in the past, if it is to deliver its promises.
To give credence and weight to this narrative, this week Banda enlisted the support of four other SCO leaders. By the way, it is now fashionable for SCOs to push their agendas as coalitions. There is nothing wrong with that. It is strategic. You speak with a bigger voice and get better attention that way. But the agenda is the same. It is not to serve the larger public good but themselves.
So this week, Billy Banda and his coalition partners questioned the wave of arrests of people connected to the immediate past DPP administration arguing the conduct may divide the country. Banda also called for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission. According to him such a commission would help heal the wounds of the nation and put the nation on the path to reconciliation. He asked the new administration to forgive the thieves and looters.
It’s true Malawi needs all of these—healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. But more than and before anything else, Malawi needs rule of law and justice. For healing, reconciliation and forgiveness to take place, justice should be allowed to flow like a river. The law is the common denominator and regulator.
Malawians are angry because somebody stole from them. They stole money for drugs, roads, schools, farm inputs, relief, utility services. As a result of this brazen thievery, Malawians are being denied proper and quality services in all sectors. Malawians want the law to take its course.
Those who dipped their filthy fingers into public coffers and those who are causing misery to Malawians should face the law. The law was there before they started stealing. They knew the consequences of their actions. But they chose to ignore them. They are now filthy rich and even boasting about their ill-gotten wealth. And then someone has the audacity to say they should be forgiven. My foot!
Irrespective of the administration the thieves are from, they must all face the law. Forgiving a presumed thief sounds saintly, but it hurts even more to victims of the theft. Besides you only forgive someone who is remorseful. You don’t forgive a thief who does not admit their wrongdoing. The Tonse Alliance already opened a window for those who looted to confess their sins and return the loot during the campaign period. That window is now closed. If you stole and failed to declare you stole, there is now only one logical and legal conclusion of your conduct. You must go through the justice system. People want nothing but justice. Only when justice is seen to be done will there be healing and reconciliation.
The Chakwera-led Tonse administration will be making a grave mistake to listen to people asking it to forgive thieves. You can forgive a goat thief or a cattle rustler but not people who stole hundreds of millions or billions of kwacha.
The new administration will not win the war against corruption if it leaves thieves scot free in the name of healing and reconciliation. You don’t reconcile with thieves and plunderers. How do you drain the swamp? Let the crusade against fraud, plunder and corruption continue.