Renowned social commentator Michael Usi has urged politicians to carefully handle Cashgate, the Capital Hill fraud that, according to estimates, has siphoned over K100 billion (about $250m) from Treasury within four years.
Usi, who held political public lectures ahead of the May 20 Tripartite Elections to enlighten Malawians on a number of issues, said in an interview on Friday he was worried that some politicians are rushing the issue.
Usi, a comedian popularly known as Manganya in entertainment circles, described Cashgate as an old wound that has developed complications and would require a more careful approach than a fresh wound.
He said: “I have critically listened to comments by politicians, both in government and opposition, have made on Cashgate. The impression I get is that everyone wants the matter handled with supersonic speed and at any cost.
“There are many people involved, we hear so, and each one of them is a case on its own. There will be several cases. While others continue committing corruption, there are other cases on the other hand other than Cashgate for government agencies to deal with.”
Usi said his worry was that if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, which pledged to deal with Cashgate, invests all its energies and resources in the scam, government will have little time to focus on other pressing issues.
He suggested the appointment of a special committee, independent of the Executive, to partner the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), in dealing with Cashgate.
Usi said: “I do not subscribe to the idea of Minister of Finance, Economic and Development Planning [Goodall Gondwe] commenting on Cashgate or Jetgate scandals. We have people that hold a view that Cashgate started in the past DPP administration.
“Others even say Cashgate started under the United Democratic Front [UDF] regime, others say it started with the Malawi Congress Party [MCP]. It is a matter we must handle carefully.”
Usi said such a complicated matter needs a strategy and establish what people want out of Cashgate investigations.
He said: “Is it just to name and shame the suspected people? Is it to recover the finances the nation lost? If it is to recover the stolen money, what measures can be put in place for transparency? If we are not careful, we may end up having Cashgate within Cashgate.”
Usi, a deputy director of the Adventist Development Relief Agency (Adra) Malawi, said an investigation into Cashgate must be done with the objective of building the nation rather than settling political scores.