It has already been said many times without number that the introduction of government reforms created great expectations. Malawians might have been thinking that, finally, corrective measures for many problems in the country have been found. Even some donors openly praised Malawi government for the reforms. Obviously, the reforms were to straighten up various wrong systems in the government.
Meanwhile, it is surprising to note that it seems the story of the reforms is slowly but surely dying down while the socio-political and economic problems are getting worse. Despite the reforms, corruption scandals in President Peter Mutharika’s government are the order of the day. The latest scandal is the maize import from Zambia. One would assume that the process of purchasing maize from neighbouring countries should be the most straightforward. This is a wrong assumption because in the Mutharika government, the process is complicated because of corruption. So many players want to get involved, probably with the hope of getting some kickbacks.
If Mutharika is serious about fighting corruption, he should have already by now put in place a well-controlled procedure for procuring food such as maize from outside the country. No one should be left to believe that importing food into the country is an opportunity for government elites to get some ill-gotten wealth. Imagine sometime back government was reported to be intending to buy maize from Brazil. Though the deal failed, it left behind stories of would-be corruption by some government officials.
The maize import from Zambia scandal is very embarrassing to President Mutharika and his Cabinet. The President should know that this maize corruption deal is a daylight robbery from taxpayers. It is only common sense to realise that if the maize supplier paid some kickbacks he has to recoup it by raising the maize price of which Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has no choice but to raise the price as well.
Meanwhile, the Commission of Inquiry into the maize scandal can best be described as a waste of money, time and is a mere window dressing exercise. Experience in Malawi has shown that commissions of inquiry yield nothing tangible. In fact, what is the use of having a Commission of Inquiry to investigate corruption when there is the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)?
It is very worrisome that the government seems to have no proper procedures in running the country. Probably, this is deliberate so that leaders can use political influence at will. In the process things are forced to be done according to the dictates of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Unfortunately, this is what has made the much celebrated reforms to fail.
It goes without saying that government reforms need favourable and conducive environment in order to deliver the expected results. This, mostly, means that there should be no political influence from the ruling elite. It is common knowledge that people who are appointed into positions by the President or who have affiliation with the ruling DPP behave as if they are exempted from following rules and regulations. This is because they have protection from the appointing authority. It is very doubtful if the reforms can work with such retrogressive mentality.
Consequently, the reforms have failed and, by extension, the government has failed as well.