Malawi is lucky because it has an example of a leader, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who knew how to control or get rid of corruption. During his era, there was no corruption, let alone plunder of tax payers’ money. In fact, whenever anyone was caught stealing public resources in whatever way, such a person would straight away get arrested and if found guilty would be thrown into jail.
Corruption in Malawi was mostly started during Bakili Muluzi’s era. It so happened that during his time anybody was allowed to get business contracts with government. Most of the businesses were building roads and bridges as well as schools. Surprisingly, there was no real selection criteria about who was to be given a contract or not. People capitalised on such government weakness and bribed their way into winning contracts even if they had no expertise or facilities for building roads or schools. One with only hoes and a wheel barrow would be given a 50-kilometre road to build. The other problem is that inspectors would certify that a road or school was completed to standards without visiting the sites. In this way, contractors got all their money without doing anything. A lot of government money was wasted in that way while people were busy perfecting corruption.
Many people might be aware that corruption, plunder of public resources and abuse of office climaxed during the leadership of Peter Mutharika. When Lazarus Chakwera came into power in July 2020, the media was awash with stories of plunder and stealing public money. Arrests of suspects have so far been made and it continues wherever need be. This is commendable to most Malawians. The government should make sure that this is not just window dressing exercise. In the past, some people would be arrested and then once given bail that was the end of the story. Malawians trust both President Chakwera and Vice-President Chilima that all the plunder cases will reach a logical conclusion. This can be the way to correct corruption, stealing and all manner of plunder in Malawi.
Meanwhile, people still expect the government to widen the net so that more suspects are found to face the law. What should come next is for these plunder cases to be quickly tried and concluded. If there is a chance of recouping back the stolen money, let it be done so. Money is required for the Chakwera government to start delivering its promises. One thing to note is that delaying the cases is like the way Bakili Muluzi’s case has been delayed. For years, his K1.7 billion case has been postponed to the extent that it is now stale and people are sympathising with him. Any more delays would mean him getting away with the stole public money and this is very unfair.
It now remains to be seen that Chakwera and Chilima will continue to show their courage by arresting all plunder suspects. It is appreciated that court facilities and personnel might be limited. Therefore, the government should come up with an idea for creating special courts just to try the plunder cases as a priority.
It can be mentioned that these cases have proved how bad nepotism, tribalism and favourtism can be. The picture which is coming out shows that people from the same area of Lhomwe belt, who were also close to Mutharika as his right hand men are the ones being arrested. Their actions were not checked by any government authority. This is how some were even free to use Mutharika’s duty free facility.
Lastly, there is enough material that president Chakwera can use to correct corruption and plunder.