Honourable folks, the campaign period is here, and along with it, the kind of delinquent mischievousness, irresponsibility and immaturity that we have grown to loathe.
In the past week alone, we have seen two political alliances, led by four people who really should know better, flout all the measures put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) by holding mega rallies.
Honestly, it was disheartening to see the MCP-UTM and DPP-UDF alliances converge thousands of people in one place at a time when government has restricted public gatherings to 100 people to prevent contagion.
More so when the rallies did not adhere to some of the principles such as ensuring that people are provided with hand-sanitiser, stay one-metre apart and wear face masks when attending public gatherings.
To date, none of the alliances have been penalised for failing to adhere to government restrictions. And none has the decency to apologise for putting thousands of Malawians at risk of infection in their quest to amass enough votes to propel them to the coveted plot number one.
It seems that politicians in Malawi think they are above the law and that their principles do not apply to them. In their apparently flawed line of thinking, it is Ok to disregard city and government regulations so long as it serves their political interests.
Folks, APM, Atupele, Laz and SKC have shown that at best, they are not aware of the threat their strolls around town would pose to the fight against Covid-19, or at worst, they simply don’t care.
Sadly, the disregard for law does not end there. It extends to other equally, if not more important, laws on governance-particularly those designed to strengthen Malawi’s public financial management frameworks.
While the quartet were quick to gallivant around town to woo voters, none of them shows any real interest to walk to the office of the registrar’s office and declare their sources of political funding-a key provision in the Political Parties Act.
It is ironic, that the quartets—which also happen to lead four of the most powerful parties in the country and profess to be champions of the anti-corruption fight—do not appreciate the importance of this particular provision in the Act.
Folks, public sentiment out there is that unprincipled businesspersons fund political parties in return for lucrative government contracts, which are more often than not, awarded in dubious and fraudulent conditions once the party assumes power.
There is also a feeling that some of the proceeds from these shady deals end up in the parties’ coffers to fund political campaigns. Therefore, by declaring their sources of funding, political parties can let the public know who their benefactors are.
Presumably, the idea is that if the public knows who funded the governing party, the public would be able to note when the parties’ sympathiers are compromising their ability to reward government contracts on merit.
It would also show that the funds used in their reckless movements across the country were acquired legitimately.
It is also important to note that the DPP and MCP, the parties leading the two coalitions failed to present audited financial reports on how they used State funds they received in compliance with the Act.
Folks, one has to wonder what is in those reports and declarations these parties don’t want the public to see. Why is it so difficult for the self-proclaimed champions of Malawi’s campaign against corruption to declare how they get their money and how they spend it?
The backbencher is inclined to believe, that with all the negative publicity surrounding party funding and its alleged ties to fraud, enforcing compliance on parties’ financial management systems would be the first-line of defence as we seek to stamp out institutionalised corruption once and for all.
Enhancing the reporting mechanisms of political party financing could be Malawians best shot at ensuring that billions of donor funds do not end up lining up the pockets of unscrupulous party sympathisers.
Improved scrutiny on the relationships between political parties and their benefactors could be Malawi’s best chance at ensuring that the next generation of Malawian taxpayers do not end up paying hefty interest rates on loans that financed poor quality infrastructure project usually collapse within the first 10 years of their construction.
This is why that culture of impunity and disregard for the law should stop. It is high time these politicians started upholding the laws they swore to protect. Malawi’s bright and prosperous future depends on it.