While financial forensic experts, anti-corruption officers and the police are busy hunting down Cashgate suspects, leaving most of us observing from a distance and going about our daily routines as innocent souls, the philosophical verdict condemns us all to many years behind bars for letting Cashgate happen before our eyes.
Albert Einstein, a well-known sage and physicist once said: “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”
Indeed, at the heart of the crisis which our nation is currently grappling with, is the gross complicity demonstrated at all levels which saw billions of kwachas finding its way outside the system to few individuals who did not render any meaningful service to government.
‘Complicity’ is akin to silence, inaction, support, omission and hypocrisy to name just a few.
As Georgio Agamben, another philosopher, once remarked: “Today’s man has become blind not to his capacities but to his incapacities, not to what he can do but to what he cannot.”
Each one of us should pause and reflect as to what we failed to do when Cashgate was happening (or we are failing to do to stop ‘sub-Cashgates’ happening in our institutions as we speak).
We are blind to our inaction. There is massive inaction over pertinent issues in our society right now which jeopardises our economy, environment and security, to name a few. It is high time we started taking to task those who do nothing, keep quiet and pretend that all is well when in actual fact they heard, saw, felt or read in reports passing through their own desks that something was not right somewhere.
For instance, the control measures in our financial system are too numerous to mention. Starting from how contracts are solicited and awarded, preparation and cashing of cheques, monitoring and evaluation, auditing and much more.
Sometimes I ask myself how all those good accountants in government offices prepared cheques of huge sums of money without supporting documents, and why nobody bothered to alert somebody whose job is to follow up on such anomalies?
All signatories in various departments signed and countersigned the checks when they knew no service was being offered. The banks honoured huge sums of cash in unbelievable time frames without verifying them, yet a poor person like me takes over an hour to cash a check of K500 000 because of multi-level verification of such a cheque?
Monitoring and evaluation officers saw no need to raise an alarm and it had to take the shooting of former budget director Paul Mphwiyo for Cashgate to come to the fore? Were they (monitoring and evaluation specialists) really working? Do we have auditors in the system or were they on sabbatical leave somewhere?
And finally, were the politicians really keeping tabs of how their technocrats were channelling finances to various planned programmes?
What I see is that everybody was there but nobody spoke, condemned, reported or took any action to save public funds in his capacity and within his available means. I find gross complicity in our society and a laissez faire attitude of not getting concerned when something wrong is happening. That takes me to the issue of morality to say that as a nation we have thrown our morals to the dogs.
We are too blind to our incapacities and cannot point a finger at someone whose actions have potential to put the whole nation on fire. That is why we aid illegal immigrants to do whatever they want to do in this country, do not report thieves in our communities to police, are selling prime land at give-away prices to foreigners and are betraying Mother Malawi in so many ways, all for money.
As a nation, we must confront the evil spirit of complicity. We are wherever we are for a purpose and must stop all the bad things happening near us. When a crisis hits, as has happened with Cashgate, it is not fair to let or expect the financial pundits, politicians and law makers alone to come up with solutions that will prevent Cashgate from happening again.
The solution lies with us all to rethink how—through omission, oversight and a general lapse in alertness —we condone the plunder of public resources and unexplained enrichment by some of our compatriots.