George Orwell, author for the famous book Animal Farm, was once quoted as saying a people that elect corrupt politicians are not victims but accomplices. This is very true even to Malawians. The talk in the country now is about corruption. The revelations after the Malawi – Zambia maizegate has simply added fuel to the already heated corruption debate. The maizegate has proved that no matter what, leaders must not be taken on face value.
The quotation from Orwell has a lot of meaning to a corrupt country like Malawi. The majority of Malawians can remember so well that during the dictatorship rule of Kamuzu Banda, corruption was not an issue for everyday discussion as is the case now. It is unfortunate that the advent of multiparty democracy came with corruption which has slowly, but surely, been gathering momentum.
At the start of his term of office, President Peter Mutharika promised to decisively deal with corruption once and for all. After close to three years it is now very clear that he has failed. Surprisingly, the more he talks about getting rid of it, the more people practice corruption without any fear. Without doubt, most Malawians wonder how and why corruption in the country has reached such unprecedented levels. There might be many reasons but the main one is the habit of choosing corrupt people to take leadership positions. Needless to say that to such people the reason for coming into power is to have an opportunity of getting ill-gotten wealth from taxpayers.
To make the situation worse, the electorate becomes accomplices who expect to be bribed to put people into leadership positions. Such bribes are expected to continue flowing at every twist and turn of leadership. Such symbiotic relationship makes leaders get away with their corrupt habits. Meanwhile, it is human nature that leaders do not use their hard earned money for bribing. Therefore, there is need to find another source which happens to be public resources and mostly taxpayers money. In the process service deliveries fail in Malawi. This is what corruption is all about.
It does not need a genius to know that corruption has really ravaged Malawi. Recently it might have surprised most poverty-stricken Malawians to hear that ex-Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda was found with K124 million stashed in his house. This is a mockery and an insult to the poor majority most of who have no idea where their next meal would come from.
Meanwhile, no country can progress with the level of corruption taking place in Malawi. Leaders, especially those in government, seem to have perfected the practice of converting public resources into personal fortunes. Hence, some of them claim to be millionaires within two years of being in power.
As it were, Malawians will be having elections in 2019. Without doubt most of the electorate are aware by now about which leaders are the champions of corruption. Then it is up to the electorate not to vote for such people again regardless of the amounts of bribes they will dish out. People must be mindful that no ordinary Malawian has ever improved his/her life by getting a bribe here and there. Bribes cannot develop Malawi.
Malawians must stop being accomplices to corruption cartels. Indeed corruption can be stopped if Malawians can put their heads together as they did on the maizegate inquiry which in the process forced the President to fire Chaponda.