Chitipa: its geography, people and history

In the years since Malawians went to the polls on June 14 1993 it has become clear that no government is perfect.

Barely after the 10 years of Bakili Muluzi aptly described as the ‘lost years’ there were sentiments of longing for the time of dictator Hasting Kamuzu Banda, yearning for the period when people worked hard, when the the currency was as strong as pound and the economy was strong, when the cities were clean and people knew to build toilets alongside their houses.

With the abrupt end of Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration, his first five years and how he stood up to donors, the infrastructure development that he introduced and his overall leadership was remembered with fond memories, not so much the first two years of his second term.

Joyce Banda’s administration was nothing to write home about. With the People’s Party came high devaluation and wanton theft of taxpayers’ money leading to Cashgate.

If anything, the recent disclosures of fraud and mismanagement of resources disclosed by the audits of the government accounts are an enough indication that really, no government is perfect and will never be.

Diligently, with a little push from donors, the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has sifted through the audits of the two financial years leading to the current administration and what was discovered is certainly not shocking.

The forensic audit for the short period of April to September, 2013 did show an astounding amount of money stolen from the government coffers in a deliberate and not so sophisticated manner.

As such, the billions of kwacha not accounted for the sale of maize at produce trader, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) should not be news, but the fact that it happened is a shame.

For the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development to take advantage of the results of the audits of the financial years 2012 ending June 30, 2014 to boast about the current administration’s record is another shame in itself.

It is really sad that a ministry that should be the last to embroil itself in political propaganda could make use of the reports of theft and general mismanagement of public finances to take a cheap shot at the opposition.

It is beneath the usually professional ministry to make such an underhanded attack on the media whose reports from the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee meetings clearly indicated the financial years under scrutiny.

This attitude of ‘its not us it was them’ will certainly not correct the rot that is in public finance management even today.

Taking pride in the fact that billions of public resources were stolen under the Ministry of Finance’s watch was certainly unfortunate.

In that ill-timed press release this week, the Ministry of Finance forgot that the people who misused money at Admarc did it under their nose.

The K7 billion that Admarc can boldly and with a chin up claim to have no knowledge of its whereabouts happened when the structures that are in the ministry now existed, be it the office of the Secretary to the Treasury or the Public Finance Management Act, which at last check had not been amended.

In fact, the audit report for the year ended June 2016, two years into this current administration is there for all to see that the DPP is no cleaner than PP or the earlier DPP as under their watch K4.4 billion fell through the cracks.

Being pedantic about who did what and when will not help this nation. It was for a good reason that the PP was voted out of power, the DPP should not so easily give Malawians a reason to boot them out. The proverb, linda madzi apite ndipo uziti ndadala speaks to the Ministry of Finance.

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