A few months ago, almost every other Malawian was fired up and willing to do everything in their power to ensure that they know the truth about the K6.2 billion Covid-19 response fund. It was at the height of the pandemic in the country. I guess then, we all felt the need to know how many meant for fighting the pandemic is being used.
Then came a time when the number of Covid-19 cases went down and with that, it seems we all suddenly lost our voice and let it slide or perhaps we thought government and the leaders therein will be bold enough to come out in the open and explain what happened and what further steps they have taken to ensure every coin in the K6.2 billion is accounted for.
We saw what I would call a smokescreen, where a minister was fired and a few people arrested. Then, what followed was a deafening silence from government and all of citizens. It is as if we had accepted our fate.
I will be quite honest that all of us Malawians, we have let ourselves down. I have in mind, the civil society which has gone quiet and when they do speak, they are simply reactionary and not proactive. I also have in mind the fourth arm of government, the media. I am part of the problem too. I feel we have failed to make use of the Access to Information Act to pin down government to give out information on matters such and the K6.2 billion Covid fund. We all have done a great disservice to mother Malawi and should bury our heads in shame.
We are a country obsessed with trivia. We are obsessed with the President’s six pack and we discuss that for days on end. As if that is not enough trivia, we come up with defeatist phrases such as pa ground sipalibwino. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all for lighter moments. We all need some time to unwind but that should not make us lose sight of serious national issues such as holding our leaders accountable. Pa ground sipalibwino, partly because we have let our leaders literary get away with murder. Some lighter moments are simply meant to distract the citizenry from questioning leaders for all the wrong decisions they make.
It is also quite discouraging that the few people that stand up and fight, are scorned and frowned upon and are rarely supported in their cause. Politicians and government officials often use this loophole and feed us trivia just to take our minds away from the real issues. Take for instance, the arrests that followed the revelation of the mismanagement of the K6.2 billion Covid fund. What has become of them?
There are so many other issues that we can think of that our leaders have just swept under the carpet because as citizens, we have also decided to remain quiet and not pile pressure on government to come out and explain. If as citizens we were able to hold our leaders to account, by now we would have had a new cabinet, this is something the president, without being forced, promised to give us. Now there is no more talk about cabinet assessment.
The status quo will remain the same if we as citizens, civil society and media continue to watch from the sidelines. I want to believe that all is not lost. We can each play our part to ensure that leaders do not sleep on the job. Let them know that they a great Malawians an explanation for whatever decision they make.
The K6.2 billion is just one of the many critical issues that we need answers to. We cannot continue letting leaders get away with mediocrity.