The theft of K80 million from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), money belonging to the people of Malawi for their social and economic development, refuses to die.
It is quite clear that the culprits are the members of Parliament who procedures tasked them with suggesting projects to the councils for implementation.
But with their overblown sense of self-importance, the MPs wanted to be the procurement officers, the quantity surveyors and the contractor all in one, all for the purpose of maintaining their seats.
Much as the government attempted to hide information from the public on these miscreants, the fact remains that 20 MPs are at fault and an amount of K80 million was misused through misprocurements, construction of substandard structures and general corruption.
It is, therefore, strange for a few members of Parliament to attempt to erase the facts of the audit carried out in the district councils.
The CDF projects are treated like any other, and the usual procurement and funds disbursement procedures have to be followed.
The campaign season is heating up in the constituencies in readiness for primary elections next year and it is the intention of the incumbent MPs to hold as many unveiling ceremonies as possible to buy themselves space on the ballot, that is a fact.
It is unnecessary at this particular moment to start pointing fingers, when four fingers will point back at you. It is the duty of Treasury and the council finance departments to instill public finance management procedures.
Each project has a different budget and it will not happen that the K18 million, now K23 million will be disbursed at once, not in CDF projects and certainly not in large scale projects such as roads and hospitals.
It is too late to start blaming Treasury for putting in place accountability measures. The MPs should remember that even in the face of such, K80 million is gone.
The demand for more money has pushed the CDF expenditure from roughly K3.4 billion last year to about K4.4 billion for all the 193 constituencies.
The Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe had to withdraw the additional K1 billion from the K15 million allocation for five boreholes per constituency plan.
Typical of their selfishness, it was alright for the MPs to take away money from boreholes to the CDF, so they could easily abuse these funds—perhaps for the reason that they do not have friends and relatives to supply such equipment or own drilling companies.
To describe what has been happening with the CDF as a mess is an understatement. CDF is marred with theft and corruption, the various audits by government institutions and civil society organisations have confirmed this.
If it were not 2017 and politics were not the order of the day, these MPs who have pocketed the K80 million belonging to the people of Malawi would have been mentioned right in Parliament; Anti-Corruption Bureau would have been hard at work compiling evidence to prosecute them as it does ordinary Malawians who pocket K30 000 in a deal.
The naming and shaming would not have stopped in Parliament but the government would have been given permission to go flat out with propaganda using the tax funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation to decampaign the MPs responsible for this theft out of the 2019 election running.
But this is Malawi, at 53 years, this old man forgets easily. If the nation cannot expediently deal with the theft of K236 billion, what is a little K80 million stolen from councils?
Malawi is a nation where its people can accept the explanation that its government has planned to overspend taxpayers money and have the audacity to hide the budget, ‘just in case’.