While financial forensic experts, anti-corruption officers and the police are busy hunting down selected individual suspects in connection with Cashgate, leaving most of us observing from a distance and going about our daily routines as innocent souls, the philosophical verdict condemns all of us to many years behind bars for letting Cashgate happen before our eyes.
Albert Einstein, a well-known sage and physicist once said: “If I were to remain silent, I would be guilty of complicity.”Indeed, at the heart of the crisis which our nation is currently grappling with, is the gross complicity demonstrated at all levels which saw billions of kwacha finding its way outside the system to few individuals who did not render any meaningful service to government. ‘Complicity’ is akin to silence, inaction, support, omission and hypocrisy to name just a few. As Georgio Agamben, another philosopher, once remarked, “today’s man has become blind not to his capacities but to his incapacities, not to what JOKE She can do but to what he cannot,” each one of us should pause and reflect as to what we failed to do when Cashgate was happening. We are blind to our inaction. There is massive inaction over pertinent issues in our society which jeopardises our economy, environment, security to name a few.
It is high time we started taking to task those who do nothing, keep quiet and pretend that all is well when in actual fact they heard, saw, felt or read in reports passing through their own desks that something was not right somewhere. For instance, the control measures in our financial system are too numerous to mention. Starting from how contracts are solicited and awarded, preparation and cashing of checks, monitoring and evaluation, auditing and much more. Sometimes I ask myself: you mean all good accountants in government offices allowed to prepare checks of huge sums of money without supporting documents and nobody bothered to alert somebody whose job is to follow up on such anomalies? What I see is that everybody was there, but nobody spoke, condemned, reported or took any action to save public funds in his capacity and within his available means. I find gross complicity in our society and a laissez-faire attitude of not getting concerned when something wrong is happening. That takes me to the issue of morality to say that as a nation we have thrown our morals to the dogs. We are too blind to our incapacities and cannot point a finger at someone whose actions have potential to put the whole nation on fire.
That is why we aid illegal immigrants to do whatever they want to do in this country; we do not report thieves in our communities to police; we are selling prime land at give-away prices to foreigners and are betraying Mother Malawi in so many ways. For us who work far away from Capital Hill, we are not spared from the charge of complicity simply because we might have seen or heard that somebody somewhere was building a mansion within a space of a week or living well beyond his means when in actual fact he was simply an accounts clerk—in government for that matter! Some of us have those involved in Cashgate as our sons, daughters, cousins and distant relatives.
We saw that overnight they started talking in millions or billions. We ate and imbibed with them. As a country we must confront the evil spirit of complicity. We are wherever we are for a purpose and must stop all the bad things happening near us. When a crisis hits, as it has happened with Cashgate, it is not fair to let or expect the financial pundits alone to come up with solutions that will see all the holes in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) sealed. Likewise it would be folly to count on politicians that they will conceive measures and institute policies that will prevent Cashgate from happening again.
The solution lies with us all to rethink how through omission, oversight and a general lapse in alertness allowed us to condone the plunder of public resources and unexplained enrichment by some of our compatriots.
The author is a Malawian who likes to comment on social issues.