Don’t take goodwill for granted

7/06/12

When President Joyce Banda appointed Moses Kunkuyu as Information Minister in April, she gave him a brief that left some of us mouth agape, wondering whether we heard her right and indeed whether we were still in Malawi.

The President told the minister to respect the intellect of Malawians and never lie to them that black is white or white is black when they know the difference. After being fed on an unbalanced diet of unbelievable lies, as if we were idiots who did not know our left from our right, for over eight years through a cacophony of blasphemous spin on MBC by those who thought they were more clever than any Malawian, this was simply a breath of fresh air, literally.

Unfortunately, whether by design or omission, the same disease is slowly creeping into the JB administration and it must be nipped in the bud.

The day was May 16 and the issue were the lies that DPP gangsters fed Malawians to the effect that the much maligned zero-deficit budget was on track when the truth of the matter is that the Mafioso that was the DPP government borrowed K30 billion from commercial banks to prop up the figures.

When it became clear to the President that the nation was clamouring for the head of Finance Minister Ken Lipenga for being the political head of a ministry that spearheaded the colossal lies, she appointed a Special Cabinet Committee, led by Vice-President Khumbo Kachali, to probe what role the minister played in the stinker.

This became necessary after the minister’s own pleas of innocence to the effect that he did not know MRA and his officials connived to pull off the unfortunate stunt with the aim of cheating unsuspecting Malawians.

But the President gave a deadline. He told the nation clearly that she had given the committee seven days to go to the root of the matter after which she would make a decision on Lipenga.

By the time I was writing this, three good weeks had passed and the nation had not heard anything from the President or her government on what the committee had found out.

The only thing the nation is aware of is the firing of MRA commissioner general Lloyd Muhara. The announcement that Muhara had been replaced by banker John Bizwick did not even indicate whether the sacking had anything to do with the scandal. The question is: Has Muhara been implicated in the committee’s finding or his firing is based on something different?

At the end of the day, this is taking Malawians for granted, the very same thing the President advised Kunkuyu against. The right thing that the President could have done is to inform the nation that after seven days, the committee has not finished its work and that they needed more days, if at all.

Yet truth be told, the President has done well in some many aspects. She has within three months worked so hard to reverse the dangerous slope that the country was on. Tyranny which was alive and well just three months ago under the late Bingu wa Mutharika and his DPP government was buried with him.

Today, critics of government risk neither arrest nor detention. We can now sleep in peace knowing that death threats from thugs and hoodlums working with the blessings of DPP have gone into eternal hibernation.

Bodies such as the World Bank and IMF, which were being denounced by Mutharika and his minions, leaving us, the people, to bear the brunt of the effects of his bad governance are now back talking business with us.

The President has not unleashed his party’s youth cadets to rain mayhem on her detractors. The British are sending a High Commissioner after Fegus Cochrane-Dyet was given 72 hours to pack his bags and leave Malawi only for Britain to freeze aid. There is a high chance that Americans will give US$350 million they had pledged towards improving our electricity supply later this month.

Goods, though expensive now due to the 49 percent devaluation, are slowly beginning to appear on shelves in shops as there is some inflow of forex into the country. Fuel queues are disappearing slowly. Relations with neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Mozambique are back to normal.

Malawians are appreciative of these trends and the kudos are to JB. But this should not be an excuse for her not to make good of the promises she makes to the nation.

When the President announced the Kachali committee three weeks ago, I was left with little doubt that she was firmly behind Finance Minister Ken Lipenga’s pleas of innocence and I am beginning to feel that I was right.

But this is missing the point and the point is that if Mutharika were alive today, would the Finance Minister have told Malawians the truth about MRA borrowing colossal sums of money in the name of Malawians without getting the necessary approvals in an attempt to dupe them especially when he defended MRA when the former president was still breathing?

This is the issue that the President is failing to see by not being straight with Malawians on Lipenga. Cronyism is what she is starting and it is not impressive at all as it can derail her otherwise good performance so far.

Being straight with Malawians and making good of promises is called accountability and as far as the MRA and Lipenga issue is concerned, the President has failed and this is taking Malawians’ goodwill for granted.

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