On his return from the Brics meeting in South Africa, President Peter Mutharika said the meeting was beneficial as Malawi will have the opportunity to tap in $34 billion for infrastructure development. The President was trying to sell this information to Malawians as it sounds encouraging on the surface. But it is necessary for Malawians to think about how many times the government has been given loans for infrastructure development. In the end, nothing much happens. A good example is the K324 billion loan that the government got from India to build 10 000 houses for soldiers, police and prison officers. At the moment, it is less than 20 houses built and lots of political promises. With so much abuse, one can only guess what has happened to the rest of the loan. Despite all the loans for development, nothing much comes out except for stories about corruption and stealing of the money.
Some of the stealing in this country makes one wonder if the President and his DPP-led government have any strategy on security. For example, it was recently reported in the media that three million litres, or 60 tanks of 50 000 litres each of fuel, was stolen at Escom. Meanwhile, it makes no sense at all to blame the watchmen. The question is: Who watches the watchmen? By the way, what was Escom management and the government doing? By not doing anything one can assume that they were accomplices. Fortunately, Malawi has very active civil society organisations (CSOs) which are courageous to take to court even the most feared individuals who seem to have support from the executive. After CSOs have exposed alleged corrupt people and thieves, it is when the government comes in and casually condemn corruption and stealing of public resources, and it ends there.
Honestly speaking, giving money to President Mutharika and his government seems to be a high risk. The money is likely not to serve the people of Malawi.
As Malawians appreciate the possibility of getting funds from Brics, they should realise that many times before Malawi has received so many loans with obscure results on development. The main reason for this negative picture is corruption. As we are heading to 2019 elections, there is likely to be much more corruption, especially by those people in the corridors of power as they need money for campaign. Experience has shown that such people corruptly get government contracts. The danger here is that contracts are given to unqualified people. For example, a lot of road contractors have no machinery, expect hoes and wheelbarrows. The result are very poor roads and yet lots of money is paid to the contractors.
For Malawi to benefit from Brics and other financial donations there is need for government to prepare the situation in the country by stopping corruption and stealing. Failing which, all the aid to Malawi will continue to be converted to personal fortunes by those in corridors of power. Hence, no worthwhile development will take place in the country.
President Mutharika must know that financial opportunities from Brics and all will mean nothing to the people of Malawi if all the money received will be corruptly stolen. n