“The whole government,” once said Paul Mphwiyo, “is a criminal enterprise.”
As the Lazarus Chakwera-led administration continues clearing the “rubble”, everywhere you turn to, appears to be a crime a scene. Everywhere, State enterprises were mercilessly looted.
This country, for once we must agree with the late Bingu wa Mutharika, is not poor and the poverty is deliberately manufactured, too.
We also know why—with gruesome detail—State institutions are collapsing; why hospitals have no drugs, teachers are paid peanuts, our roads are an eyesore and death trap, why we are among the poorest nations on the face of earth.
Our leaders, their families, business partners, have ravaged this country like a plague—living in their wake nothing short of a trail of an economic genocide, as folks have aptly described the maddening abuse being exposed on a daily basis.
Already, the total amount estimated to have been looted from the State is hovering around a few trillions.
To put things in context, the national budget by the last DPP Finance minister Joseph Mwanamvekha was worth K1.7 trillion and you can imagine just how many roads, schools or hospitals can be constructed from that amount.
It’s funny, though, that the former ruling party, amid the spew of the unfolding scandals, remains unrepentant and even has the audacity to claim its members who are facing various prosecution for all manner of impunity are actually victims of a witch-hunt.
It is a day of reckoning—comeuppance the editor of this newspaper would say—for the thieves, thugs and demons that terrorised this country, as if they own it, for so long.
But beyond celebrating justice for Buleya Lule, Tambala family, Issa Njauju, the many faceless children and pregnant mothers that died out of preventable diseases—because money meant for hospitals and doctors was stolen—we know that simply arresting those responsible for DPP atrocities won’t necessarily stop others in MCP from repeating such mistakes.
If anybody had any qualms about, well they should watch how MBC, the public broadcaster, has flipped from being pro-DPP to pro-MCP.
It’s just what State institutions do and if we want genuine change, the Tonse Alliance administration must quickly usher in the legislative reforms required to reboot our governance system and at the top of the agenda must be trimming the excessive presidential powers.
Importantly, we need the heads of ACB, National Audit Office, Director of Public Prosecutions, Financial Intelligence Authority, the Inspector General of Police provided with security of tenure so that the President can no longer willy-nilly hire-and-fire them.
For example, so often Martha Chizuma, the Ombudsman, is praised for doing a stellar job in fighting the excesses of power while Reyneck Matemba, the head of ACB, is lambasted for being a toothless bull-dog.
What the public has failed to grasp is that Chizuma’s contract cannot be terminated at the whim of the President while Matemba’s can.
It’s no rocket science, then, why Chizuma feels emboldened to go after the government ceaselessly while Matemba is a bit extra cautious (reasonable still when you consider the Issa Njauju episode).
ACB itself, actually, has pushed for these amendment for a long time without success and MCP, too, through a Private Members Motion once asked Parliament to also make the same changes.
Finally, let’s enact laws that safeguard funding to these crucial governance institutions—ACB, Police, NAO, DPP—from executive interference as funding is one vital weapon the executive has used to fight good governance in the country.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that all the rot in the country, at the centre of it all, is a rotten but excessively powerful executive that influences who gets what contract, hired for what job etc.
It controls the narrative through MBC and protects corrupt favourites through control of ACB, Police and Ministry of Justice (DPP office).
It’s a sad reality and one DPP abused wantonly under the former president’s watch, but one others may exploit again in future if the Executive remains too powerful.
Indeed, the fish rots from head down; to tame the malaise, we must tame the Executive—the President and ministers!