Goodall and phony Lazarus

That the Pete r M u t h a r i k a – l e d government is well out-of-its depths and infested with unpatriotic greedy politicians masquerading as ‘honourables’, is something this column has never been shy to say.

That Goodall Gondwe, our Finance Minister, is no longer the man he used to be; that he no longer protects the national pulse with the diligence of the old; is also not news. That his diction no longer makes any sense when popping-up a clearly troubled economy or corrupt regime, is also something we’ve known, for some time.

So we’re not surprised that once again, Goodall is cooking up statements that don’t add up as Treasury is teetering once again on verge of scandal—on Goodall’s watch.

Maybe, you missed the news, the so-called Airport test gods of journalism invented years before this column was born demands I elaborate here.

See, the old man from Rumphi, after pleading with every government department and agency to tighten its belt because Treasury is cash-strapped with Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) reportedly under collecting taxes, turned up in Parliament during the review of the budget to say, somehow, he has suddenly found an extra K4billion.

And guess what the Treasury czar does with the windfall. He gets Local G o v e r n m e n t M i n i s t e r Kondwani Nankhumwa on the phone and say: “My man, we’ve K4 billion idle in the kitty, I can give it to you. Decide whatever you want to do with it.”

And Nankhumwa, being leader of the House, draws a list of 86 MPs to benefit from this give-away. Unsurprisingly, list stinks blue to the core serve for a few MPs who support government in the House. In Nankhumwa’s wisdom, each MP’s constituency will get K40 million after giving him a proposal of what they want to do with the money.

So simplistic is the experiment, as Goodall later calls it, that the usual accounting processes of funding to local councils will be ignored.

Nankhumwa will figure the tracking and accounting mechanism. The MPs alongside their subordinates, will decide what project they want and which contractor is granted the contract. Sigh!

Now at 81, Goodall is no child. And his resume tells us he is no fool either. So God save us! Goodall fully knows he is giving away this money. God save us because last time MPs wanted to raise the amounts for Constituency Development Funds (CDF) he fought hard, in vain, to ensure that that didn’t happen. Goodall’s expressed fear –shared by donors and any independent expert—was that MPs were abusing CDF funds. Guess what happened, the whole Parliament revolted against Goodall during one the rare occasions he has tried to do the right thing.

And inside mob was the phony American accent of Lazarus Chakwera, drumming support for the increased funds. Yes, God save us, because Chakwera, won’t. Shed a tear for millions of Malawians who for some time have pinned their hope on Chakwera saving us from the current kleptocracy can’t. We now know he won’t.

That the erratic Goodall, who the last time he featured on these pages had just countenanced the payment of an ungodly K64 million to decorate the office of the Chief Secretary, is capable of playing chickens with our hard earned money in this manner, is no surprise. That Chakwera is now increasingly learning the tricks from Gondwe is the real tragedy.

Lazarus, goodness me, what happened to you Mr Supposed Game- Changer? What happened to the man who was going to end the vicious cycle of corrupt politicians that prey on our taxes in a system of patronage?

What happened to the evangelist-turned-politician who swore to uphold biblical morals when he finally landed in public office?

We have a different Lazarus now; a compromised one. The thing is not that Chakwera has had a belated turn about to call for condemnation but in the business commitee where he can throw around his weight, his party instead of stopping this theft, accepted a compromise of getting a slice of the loot.

The moment Goodall whispered in Chakwera’s ear that he could extend the K4 billion thieving enterprise to Chakwera’s party, too, our good leader of opposition, turned into the proverbial ostrich and went for the sand. Chakwera and the whole Malawi Congress Party (MCP) have gone mute –just as when one raise the subject of the Lilongwe-Salima waterway project.

Turning around to call for an investigation smacks of hypocricy when his party is busy legitimising this transaction.

Yet this is the man who time and time again, points a finger at Mutharika and charge him with failing aspirations of Malawians. n

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