We are at a stage again where like a school playground, we are watching two boys fighting over whose father has the biggest car or is the big boss at the office. It does not matter to us watching this verbal exchange but it is good entertainment and makes for classroom whispers long after the issue dies down.
On Monday, President Peter Mutharika challenged Kamlepo Kalua, Rumphi East Member of Parliament (MP), and vice chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to a showdown.
The ‘MP from the north’ as the president described him at the political-cum-development rally, has been a thorn in the executive’s flesh making wild allegations about names of seven ministers which were deleted from the 2005 to 2014 forensic audit which found that K236 billion disappeared from the government coffers during that period.
But these verbal tirades at a political rally or rambling interviews with the media are not addressing the elephant in the room; there are names mentioned in the audit report only that they are not ready for public consumption.
However, if there are indeed names, is it really the President’s job or indeed the Public Accounts Committee’s to tell us about them?
There are some quarters who insist that disclosing the names of the alleged ‘thieves’ will shame them into resigning if they are in public positions, but we all know that is a technicolour dream for now. This is Malawi. Short of mob justice, Malawians will be angry for a few minutes, rant on Facebook then sit back and watch as the culprits continue to loot some more.
But there is another strange take from the rantings over the past week. In his own words, the President says he sent the Chief Secretary to the Auditor General, to inquire if indeed there were names mentioned in the audit report. Now, if this was not so baffling, it would be funny. We have a Chief Secretary doing the work of the Minister of Finance and an Auditor General answering to the President through the Chief Secretary. Only in Malawi is this not a questionable action.
I do not want to be like the ever-overzealous Kamlepo and point out the anomaly of such an action but needless to say the whole issue is now reaching extreme levels of absurdity.
Much as it is exciting to have the president verbally exchange words, with an MP for that matter, it is getting tedious and it is time one of them displayed maturity.
In any case, how did the issue of forensic audit names come to be the take-home message for journalists at a time when Malawians should have been celebrating the creation of jobs and injection of more resources into our ailing economy?
Throughout this hullabaloo, we have typically forgotten the real issues at hand. K236 billion which was stolen! Can we get back to the real issues first? The levels of theft in the government should jolt us all into action.
Overzealous politicians might perceive any call to action as a challenge to the political boxing ring but to the contrary it is greed that should no longer be tolerated.
Citizens must show that they will not tolerate theft and corruption using whatever legal means they can, but demanding names and then sitting back if the person we wanted is not on the list will take us nowhere but to another Cashgate in five years’ time. n