Graft is election matter

Honourable Folks, while the so-called  “looting at the Capital Hill” is still the talk of the town, and the focus on  whether the JB administration is on top of the situation, my concern is what all  this means to honest, law abiding and hard working Malawians.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the  President alluded to the fact that her government is trying to establish the  veracity of a K72 billion bill it owes to local suppliers goods and services.  Some of these claims date back to the Mutharika regime.

Government wants to verify that the  amount the supplier is owed isn’t an inflated figure. The story goes like this:  an unscrupulous business person connives with unscrupulous civil servants to  claim K1 million for supplies worth K10 000. The difference becomes the loot  that’s shared to finance an extravagant life enjoyed at our expense.

The delay in payment may make sense as a  tool for detecting fraud, but what does it mean to the good, honest and law  abiding Malawian, who won a tender to supply goods or service to government in  bulk, went to borrow money from the bank, used it to purchase the supplies,  delivered as per the terms in the contract and yet they have to wait for three  years or more before they get paid?

If the sum owing to them doesn’t get  adjusted to factor in depreciation, then the business is as good as dead. The  bank will still want is money paid back with interest or will, without a blink,  put on sale the beautiful house that was used for collateral.

The enterprising business person will  suffer, his family will lost a home, the economy will lost a wealth-generating  venture and job seekers will lost a potential employer.

Then there is the issue of 30 per cent  of government revenue going down the drain every year due to fraud and  corruption. First, it should be put on record that when former Director of  Prosecution Fahad Assani made that assertion during the Muluzi administration,  no senior government official, let alone either of the two previous heads of  State, bothered to render any credence to it or do anything out of the ordinary  to show seriousness in the fight against corruption.

Madam Joyce Banda is, to the best of my  knowledge, the first president to openly admit the corrosive impact of  corruption and its related vices on the national budget. The mount we are  talking about here is equivalent to the donor aid Malawi has been banking on  except this year when it was increased to 40 percent!

Interestingly, the President did not  mention the 30 percent to stress the point that corruption has reached alarming  proportions to merit the adoption of drastic anti-graft measures. Rather, she  used it to emphasise the claim that even during the Muluzi regime there was  rampant corruption in government.

The President went further to reinforce  her point by reminding Malawians that even her immediate predecessor, the late  Bingu wa Mutharika of the zero-tolerance for corruption fame, is suspected to  have fleeced the economy of K61 billion (about $152m) during the eight years he  was in government.

But what’s the point talking about  history when on her watch, civil servants are not only looting public coffers  with absolute abandon but some have gone as far as hiring assassins to silence  for good their distracters. When was it ever necessary for the business  community and civil society to threaten boycotting paying tax due to corruption?  When was it ever necessary for the donors to think of giving us aid in the form  of forensic audit services instead of dollars?

I really wonder what JB makes of her  ill-advised decisions on asset declaration in the wake of all this theft in  government. Doesn’t it appear ironic, and indeed absurd, that law enforcers and  checking bags and homes of subordinates for suspected ill-gotten wealth when  ministers and the President are refusing to let people know how much wealth they  have?

If disclosure of declared assets is a  violation of rights, as the DPP argued the other day, why then is it necessary  to disclose amount the law enforcers are discovering stashed in dolls at home or  vehicles of low ranking civil servants? Are they presumed guilty before the  courts have heard their cases?

I’m afraid the JB administration is  failing to appreciate the larger picture. Schools lack, furniture as well as  teaching and learning materials. There are no drugs in hospitals and morale of  doctors and nurses is extremely low. The police, to whom we look for our  security, are reportedly given as low as K2 million operational budget for  guarding a city as big as Blantyre. Construction of some roads has stagnated to  due lack of funds. The list of public goods and services in short supply is  long.

We pay tax—as much as 30 percent of our  monthly earnings—yet government is playing politics instead of showing good  stewardship of the chop it makes on our hard-earned incomes. That, if ignored,  is an election matter, at least for some of us.

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    Raphael Kasambara and Anthony Kamanga know exactly what is happening hence their illegal translation of the laws of the land just to suit them and their fellow thieves. If a learned person deliberately offers wrong advice to a nation or boss that is something worth a sack. These people were/are getting paid for not honouring their obligation – that of performing their duties as specified which constitutes cheating. Because they too are in this bandwagon of thieves their property accumulation must be investigated as well; they must give an account of their sudden wealth. Malawi as a nation does not belong to a people from one tribe, be it Yao, Sena, Lomwe, Chewa, Tonga, Tumbuka, Nyakyusa etc. The country belongs to people called Malawians, full stop. Joyce Banda dug her own grave faster and now what is remaining is a ‘Burial ceremony’ – incarceration of the highest order.

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