(Finance Minister Gado Gandall has applied to the People’s Tribunal, asking the court to accept that government files for bankruptcy. Judge Mbadwa has asked Gandall to present skeletal arguments before he makes his determination)
Gandall: My Lord, due to the economic challenges this government is facing, it is our intention, under the dynamic leadership of Mapuya, to file for bankruptcy. This, we believe, will not only save the face of government but also protect it from the wrath of numerous creditors and lenders who are baying for our blood.
My Lord, it is common knowledge that this government is struggling on the fiscal front. We are no longer hiring civil servants because we just cannot afford them. You probably have heard that we recently withdrew a redeployment list and employment offer letters to recruited nurse, midwife technicians and nursing officers due to lack of funds. You might also be aware my Lord that about 51 junior doctors, 34 pharmacists and physiotherapists are still languishing at home, yet the workforce in the health delivery service is depleted. Not to mention the plight of hundreds of graduate teachers who are yet to be redeployed in government schools.
And my Lord, who doesn’t know that we are failing to buy drugs in our hospitals? My Lord, the situation is so dire in government that we are failing to pay suppliers we owe billions in kwacha. Already, 2.8 million people face hunger in the country and the President has appealled for assistance as the emergency relief response needs K83.4 billion to mobilise resources, something we currently do not have. Yes, government departments which are renting offices have been evicted, but it is not our fault. Treasury just doesn’t have the money. Haven’t you seen how we are failing to tame the runaway kwacha? Our currency does not want to stay close to the dollar because we do not have the necessary monetary conditions to hold it at one position.
We have considered various options to raise money, including selling of the K2 billion worth of ivory and find some breathing space, but that would attract all sorts of repercussions. We have delayed to burn the ivory, but the more we delay the more criticism we are getting. Now that Tanzania has joined in the case, it makes it even more difficult.
In short, we have been living beyond our means and we cannot afford to be serving debts when we cannot collect enough revenue. We have tried to introduce more taxes on almost everything, including telephone text messages, but no avail. The respite we will get from this citizen’s court will enable us in the interim to run government business and spend without being accountable to anyone. I know you are a patriotic Malawian, my Lord, and you will grant us our wish. Thank you.
Judge Mbadwa: I have listened to what honourable Gado Gandall has said. I agree with him, especially where he is admitting that this government has been living beyond its means. By his own admission, government has been reckless in managing its revenue, but that is no licence for it to continue abusing taxpayers’ money. As this court is in session, at least a village of scores of officials are partying in New York under the guise of attending United Nations functions, but at the sponsorship of taxpayers. Yet, we are sending an SOS that we need urgent assistance that millions face hunger in the country. Are we really serious with these self-aggrandisement expeditions that only benefit party zealots? How many millions in kwacha are we spending on that obscenely large entourage?
With this kind of attitude, I cannot accept your application to file for bankruptcy because you have demonstrated that you don’t know how to prioritise resources. The money you are throwing in New York would have helped solve one or two problems, which you have self-inflicted on your government. Put your house in order. There are many people who pay tax but whose relations are suffering because of your propensity towards uncensored ostentatious lifestyles. I throw out this application. Case dismissed.