Indeed, corruption comes in all forms and styles. However, it all boils down to converting public resources into personal fortune.
Experience has shown that in Malawi we have had almost all types of corruption. Sadly, some of it is influenced by the leadership, especially those who derive so much satisfaction in getting rich from public resources.
Needless to say that corruption is one of the main things to have destroyed Malawi economy. Corruption in government usually comes in terms of back room deals in giving contracts. It is common knowledge that government contracts are very lucrative and the competition is very high.
It is not automatic that the highest bidder gets it, but those people who are ready to pay a lot under the carpet to the authority in charge of contracts. One should not be cheated that they lose a lot because in the end, when asking for payment after the job is done, the invoice is inflated. This is how government loses a lot of money.
The other style is that authorities allow a system of having ghost workers. Even if they introduce head-count, of which the results are not known, ghost workers still exist. Ghost workers are non-existent employees who appear on government payroll. These include employees who were long dead. This includes their pension. Checks and balances in government are non-existent. It seems it is everyone for himself and God for us all.
There is also a sense of corruption when one is appointed by the Head of State. There is a tendency for the one appointed to feel that they have been given powers to give jobs to whoever they wish.
Meanwhile, they do not mind about the qualifications of the people they employ. This is what brought the saying that ‘in Malawi getting a job is based on who you know and not what you know’. The leader at the top of government should know better that running a government with unqualified people negatively affects output.
Meanwhile, the recent investigative report by the Ombudsperson Martha Chizuma on employment of Collins Magalasi at the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) faulted President Peter Mutharika. According to the report, Magalasi was simply handpicked to the chief executive position. The procedure would have been for the vacancy to be advertised for as many people as possible to apply for short-listing by the Board and interviews. Whoever comes out to have passed would be recommended to the President for a confirmation.
Unfortunately, Mutharika overlooked the procedures and simply handpicked Magalasi.
Naturally, Magalasi worked as a favoured official. It is against this background that the Ombudsperson’s report showed that some employees at Mera were employed without following procedures. There was willy-nilly in employing people while showing some nepotism and favouritism. It must be stated that employing unqualified people is equal to spending taxpayers’ money for wrong reasons.
Lastly, what happened at Mera must not be repeated. In fact, it is a warning to presidents not to think that appointing a government official is equal to appointing a political party member to a higher position. In fact, all people who are employed dubiously spend a lot of time thinking about how to please those that appoint them, and in most cases they use taxpayers’ money. All manner of corruption is bad because it involves public or taxpayers’ money. In the end, the economy does not grow at all. This is happening in Malawi.