I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day yesterday. I wish you all a prosperous New Year.
And as we look forward to the New Year, let us look at the concerns from the Treasury Secretary as expressed in the memo he sent to the Inspector General Police in November.
Does it ring a bell that despite the arrest, prosecution, conviction and sentencing of some people involved in the 2013 Cashgate, Government’s Account Number One is still bleeding from fraud and theft by some unscrupulous civil servants?
The revelation a few months ago by the Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS) Payroll Audit that millions of kwacha of taxpayer money continued to be spirited away long after government started sealing the loopholes in its financial management system calls for some serious soul searching.
And ordinarily, the mere fact that a forensic audit is currently underway on the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) findings that K577 billion could result in more arrests, prosecutions and convictions should make people think twice before dipping their fingers in the public kitty. But as it has turned out, it has not.
This, in my view, behoves Treasury doing more than just prodding the Inspector General to net the suspects involved in the fraudulent activities.
The Police in my understanding can only arrest someone if provided with leads that help them get incriminating evidence. Or should we assume that Treasury did provide such information but the police just ignored it?
If that is the case, it is the more reason one would wish the ATI was passed yesterday as it would assist everyone to play their watchdog role and expose the weak links in how public resources are managed.
So unless Treasury has done everything in its ambit to assist the police carry out proper and thorough investigations, I find the demand on the Inspector General to enforce recommendations of National Audit Office to investigate and arrest, empty and just a face saver.
It would be most unfortunate if, on the other hand, Treasury did provide such information, hoping the Police would do their job but did nothing.
Meanwhile, the kitty, to say the least, remains messy and no donor wants to put their money in it. As one donor succinctly put it last month, the national budget is still a leaking bucket. As a result, donors have opted to channel funding through other means.
Whether or not the alternative channels are the right mechanisms for assisting Malawians is an issue for another day. For now, what cannot be disputed is that donors are still willing to lift millions of Malawians out of their grinding poverty.
In short, there is still a lot of thievery in government that needs to be stopped.
Apart from confirming that theft is entrenched in the public finance management, the continued looting of government finances confirms that government has not done enough to root out the problem.
All the while, Malawi professes to be a God-fearing nation. Talking about God-fearing, over 75 percent of Malawians are Christian, according to the 2008 national census. By extrapolation, we can assume that 75 percent of civil servants are Christians.
On a very personal note I want to end this article by thanking you all for your words for comfort following the recall to glory of Amama AnyaPhakati on December 18 2015. Phumlani kahle mama. n