Damn right I am angry, very angry

My reporting professor repeatedly told me that journalists are not supposed to be emotionally involved with a story. They must be detached. They must not be judgmental both in the presentation of the information gathered and in their thoughts as they are developing the piece.
Never should the journalist take a story personal. This was great material for an ethics folder that I have kept and referred to for years. I have tried to stick to that priceless wisdom throughout my 12 years of practising journalism.
I never cared, well, not enough anyway. I dutifully presented facts as they were without a care in the world and let the reader decide what to make of them.
But that was before the biggest bank robbery in Malawi’s history—that is what this cash pilferage really is—and one of the most sophisticated heist jobs the world has ever seen.
I mean, those mafia families in Sicily and Russia as well as the crime dons in Chicago must be green with envy, if not impressed, by the sheer magnitude of the loot and sophistry of the methodology employed.
But as I and my colleague Mabvuto Banda started getting to the bottom of the scandal, now loosely referred to as cash-gate, all the buttoned up anger burst open.
Although that anger never found its way into the published stories (Mabvuto Banda, Gracian Tukula and George Kasakula made sure of that), I was seething as I went through the cache of documents that some patriotic public servants showed us.
Yes, I am, angry at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and I know they are angry, too, for being exposed that under their watch, about K90 billion was lost (a minimum since 14 ministries were not audited) within three years between 2009 and early 2012.
DPP can cry media bias and write childish, long-winded and senseless statements demonising us for telling the truth. I really don’t care. As I like to say, I did not join journalism to win popularity contests.
It is interesting that there is no line in that DPP ambiguous statement that denies that the money was stolen. The reason is simple: they know it was stolen.
DPP also has a lot of explaining to do for neglecting to fix the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis) way back in 2006 and later in 2009.
Oh, I forgot: Why close a loophole that was making them rich? I was taken aback by one of the officials from the Accountant General’s office who, when a member of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament asked why it took the Account General so long to shut down Ifmis, yet the first case of looting was diagnosed in the 2010/2011 financial year, the controlling officer explained that it was not known then that the breach could be as enormous as was being experienced now.
What a load of bureaucratic hodgepodge! By that time, the government system already had the K90 billion investigative report. Was K90 billion small change to these fat cats in government?
I will tell you what K90 billion can do. It can allow the financially troubled Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) to build more than 11 000 three-bedroom houses of the type the parastatal built in Lilongwe’s Area 49.
I know that the officer who was answering that question may have at least three mansions in Area 43 or in Area 6 or wherever, but those modest MHC houses are what most working -class families dream of but cannot just get them because they are simply not there.
That money would have bought drugs that could have lasted a couple of years or may have built a state-of-the-art cancer clinic that would have saved thousands of lives and millions of dollars the country spends every year in referrals abroad. The list is endless.
And yes, I am angry at the People’s Party (PP) for picking up from where the DPP left. The horror at Tourism, Local Government and other departments that Nation will go after that has happened over the past six months is inexcusable.
Granted, when cash-gate broke, President Joyce Banda rolled out the government machinery to hunt down perpetrators and punish them; Ifmis was suspended to seal in the loopholes, preventive measures are being put in place and efforts to recover the loot are in motion.
But it is not enough until we see quick gains of the action plan she has crafted. I personally want civil servants’ unexplained wealth seized! I want a flood of convictions. I want some big fishes nabbed!
And I want everyone who failed to do his or her job of safeguarding our public funds severely punished. And, you are damn right; I am angry and emotionally involved with this story. So, should you! n

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    I am angry and I am crying because I have no one to vent my anger on. We have thieves all over the place. Lots of thieves in Civil Service and lot of thieves in Public enterprises. I cry because we could have developed beyond recognition had we used all resources available to us efficiently and effectively. My God, My God. Why all the greed?

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