I am extremely proud of my Weekend Nation for putting figures on the constant travel of President Joyce Banda which has been a clear sign from the People’s Party administration that while it is keen to preach frugality for the poor of Malawi, sharing it is a non-priority.
Weekend Nation clearly established that State House had overspent its budget roughly seven months before end of the financial year.
As was expected, the State House press office quickly concocted its own figures painting a rosy picture that all is well.
As usual, the statement also followed a known pattern of this government which basically shifts any blame to the previous regime.
This time, it is the wedding of the late Bingu wa Mutharika to his widow Callista that is responsible for some of the over-expenditure at the State House, according to Steve Nhlane’s press statement.
Question is: Why didn’t the State House press office provide the figures when its comment was being sought before the publication of the story? Did it have to wait for the story to come out before releasing its own matrix about expenditure in the State House?
The answer is very simple and it is that this government does not want to be accountable to the people of Malawi. By saying nothing, they thought they would kill the story and effectively stop Malawians from knowing the cost of the President’s constant travel.
Accountability is not in their vocabulary. That is why the President is very keen to find more reasons in the Constitution and from elsewhere to justify why she could not declare her assets at the beginning of her reign in April instead of looking for those reasons that would make her do the declaration, thereby setting an example for her ministers and other public officials.
She is oblivious to the fact that what she is doing is cultivating a very fertile ground for corruption in the whole system. Why should a PS who has just been appointed rush to declare assets when a whole president is dragging her feet?
But fellow Malawians, let leaders not take away our right to demand accountability on how they use the power that we bestow upon them through elections and how they blow our hard-earned taxes which we could have used in our personal lives for something profitable.
To prove this point, just check your last month’s payslip if you are on salaried employment or your supermarket bill and see the amount of money that the taxman takes away from you every month and from the transactions that you make every day.
I can assure you will be shocked and you will begin to visualise plans you would achieve if that money were left to you.
It is that money which this government wants to blow willy-nilly and will brook no questions from us, the taxpayers.
The State House press office even has the audacity of saying the Finance Minister will only report about government expenditure to Parliament.
In other words, neither the media nor any Malawian should ask questions about expenditure anywhere in government, but we should all wait with bated breath for Ken Lipenga to tell us at the appointed time and only in Parliament. What arrogance!
Malawians, let us refuse this with the last ounce of energy we have. Leaders that we elect into power do not use their personal money for anything.
They use our tax and they must fully account for it. Those who do not do this have no right to be anywhere near our tax. They should leave public office which they joined on their own volition.
It is either this or they be accountable.