Economist Henry Kachaje on Wednesday told delegates at the Sixth All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference underway in Blantyre that there is no hope for the country’s worsening corruption levels because Malawians have now embraced the vice as part of their culture.
Kachaje, who is also president of Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama), attributed the deteriorating trends to what he called “lack of leadership”.
But Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume and presidential adviser on domestic policy Hetherwick Ntaba, who were at the meeting, spoke in defence of government, saying a lot of people in the country are beneficiaries of corruption, including the church, but they pretend a lot.
In his presentation titled ‘Corruption: Its Impact on Social Economic Development in Malawi’, Kachaje said there are selected people in government who are benefiting from corruption and want to silence those rebuking such evil.
“It is interesting to see that there are people who were very noisy during the last conference, but are now quiet because they have changed sides. [They are on the side of government] .You wonder if their ideologies have changed, but no, that is what money can do.
“But you should know that some of us love this country so much and be assured, we cannot be silenced. This country is poor and corrupt because it has no leaders,” he said.
Kachaje further said Malawi has lost a lot of funds after being cheated in a number of huge investments such as the uranium mining project because of corrupt and greedy officials in government.
“The K20 billion that was [lost through Cashgate] would educate some 3 311 258 children at a primary school, calculated at a Unesco minimum rate of $15 per annum, construct over 3 000 classroom blocks or construct at least 20 new secondary schools or a total of 400 girls’ hostels, or construct about 1 176 teachers’ houses.
“What would the K577 billion have done? [It] would educate some 96 000 children at a primary school, calculated at a Unesco minimum rate of $15 per annum or construct over 86 000 classroom blocks or construct at least 577 new secondary schools or a total of 11 000 girls’ hostels or construct about 33 000 teachers’ houses,” Kachaje told the jam-packed conference room.
However, Ntaba said PAC has no moral ground to heap the blame of corruption on only government officials.
He said: “We are all beneficiaries of corruption. We are disgusted as much as you are. It is naïve to think that this is something that can only be done by those in power. We must change the approach and we would like PAC to have the confidence from all Malawians, the divisions must end. Let us move together and find solutions and not divide Malawians.”
There were also some lighter moments from the presentation by Kachaje when he asked government to include prayer intercessors in the National Budget, saying they were doing a commendable job of praying for the country rather than some officials who are only bent on plundering public funds.
Taking his turn, Wiseman Chijere Chirwa, who also presented a paper on governance issues, faulted government for being in “denial” on the status of the country’s economy.