It is not the din of approval that followed Malawi President Joyce Banda’s State of the Nation Address on Friday that will define the success of the broad initiatives she spelled out to be implemented in the 2013/14 National Budget, but rather how her administration implements the promise.
By gracefully accepting defeat and vowing to remain in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) despite concerns that the playing field was not levelled before and during the party’s convention, Henry Chimunthu Banda has demonstrated a trait that eludes most politicians in the country.
Civil servants’ hopes were understandably raised when government announced a salary increment of up to 61 percent after weeks of wrangling to end an industrial action that paralysed most government operations.
Considering that the employees were operating in difficult conditions with runaway inflation, raising the cost of living and a kwacha that continues to tumble, nobody thought government had promised civil servants the moon.
Stories about the closure of constituent colleges of the University of Malawi (Unima) sound like a scratched music record that irritatingly plays non-stop and have become an antithesis to the very vision of that institution of high learning—that of becoming "a centre of excellence in higher education for sustainable development of Malawi and the region".
The rate at which government ministries and departments continue abusing taxpayers’ money without any iota of responsibility tells a tale about the rot that has characterised the public service for ages now.
Going by the latest Auditor General’s report for the financial year ending June 2011 currently under scrutiny by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), about K3 billion (about $7.5m) was misused, abused or not accounted for through mis-procurement, payments made without supporting documents, unaccounted for cash withdrawals and abnormal payment of allowances to staff, among others.
The dust over how Malawi Government got a raw deal in the development agreement with Paladin Africa Limited over the Kayerekera Uranium Mine has not settled since some ‘rabble-rousers’ condemned the secretive way it was handled.
Kamuzu Chibambo’s sober analysis of the agreement just confirms the fears that the country’s decision to append its signature to the agreement was informed by ignorance rather than expert advice and did not consider the interests of the majority of Malawians.
The news that only one company out of seven has met the deadline in the emergency drug procurement is disheartening.
It is depressing to diabetes patients, whose lives now hang in the balance as they are being sent back from the hospitals because they still cannot access insulin when the deadline for supplying the drugs has passed.
That inefficiency is costly has been demonstrated by the news that lives of over 21 000 TB patients and million others, especially children infected by malaria, are at risk because the country failed to account for K34 million belonging to the Global Fund.
For a country whose economic lifeline has donor dependency written all over it, it is irresponsibility of the highest order to fail to submit audit reports to donors on time and lose about K10 billion in approved grants as a result.