One would be tempted to think that the Report by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan simply surveyed Malawi. The major outcome of the report remains that African countries are losing billions of dollars through secret mining deals, tax concessions, tax evasion and corruption. Remove the word Africa from the report and replace it with Malawi and the substance of the report would not change at all.
We can start with mining because it has continued to attract a lot of news of late. Mining companies have come out to do a public relations job. Whatever the case, we have learnt that some of biggest mining deal on the land is shrouded secrecy. One can’t even tell who is telling the truth or half- truths. It even had secrecy clauses, yet such companies trade openly in stock markets of developed countries.
And for common sense why should we give tax concessions to non-renewable resource businesses? Either they come or not, but our resources can remain in the ground and can seek fair win-win deals. It is often natural to smell something, and out of introspection make some, if not very unpalatable inferences or conclusions about how much Malawians are losing. Malawi and many other countries in Africa are losing their much needed revenue through modern day versions of Judas Iscariot. Political leaders must wake from their deep slumber and realise that Africa is the next big thing in business, and the bargaining chip is quite high as is been presented by foreign investors. We have a high leverage to negotiate or re-negotiate some of these deals otherwise a modern day version of colonialism is in full swing, alarmingly so.
However we cannot forget it often takes two to tango. Not all the time, can we point to foreign businesses as fuelling corruption. Some are very honest businesses and we have serious internal side of the equation. I recall some fella that could import over 50 cars duty free for personal use citing privileges outlined in some law with regard to a job they had, unfortunately on public trust. Such was one case, but if we can carefully look at how political parties have amassed wealth once in power. Since 1994, once elected into power, political parties have amassed huge wealth and the trend is apparent in 2013. The non-existent law on political party funding and public disclosure of funding sources is catalyst for fraud and corruption.
Political parties must be compelled by law to disclose their sources of funding. In the same vein, foreign funding of political parties must become illegal as it is tantamount to influencing policies of a sovereign country. The current state of affairs is that foreign businesses, indeed local ones too, make huge donations to political parties, and in the process make mockery of national procurement and financial management laws. I am yet to see any aspirant of the presidency come out in the open and make political party funding and wealth declaration a campaign issue. All you see is everyone talking about farming, fertilisers, foreign accents, marital status, age eligibility, and all cheap stuff that has trapped us in a perpetual cycle of poverty.
As we remain trapped in the cycle of poverty and squalor, for a majority of the households, someone must take huge steps, politically and throw real punches at corruption, a vice that has become so institutionalised. None has realistically happened since e 1994 except lip service reflected in institutions that are mere publicity stunts under the armpits of powerful masters.
Otherwise, the Annan report is a confirmation of abuse of public resources in Africa including our own country that we have on many occasions highlighted. It seems political leaders are happy to amass wealth and happily rule over poorest people. A moral eyesore.