Has K145m really evaporated?

Hon Folks, after the embarrassing exposure of the K145 million which ended up in a DPP account for which the President is the sole signatory, several things have happened.

The ACB first embarked on a witch-hunt to smoke out the whistle blower within the organisation. Later it tried to do some damage control by clearing APM of benefitting personally from the so-called gift which, to me, has the look and feel of a kickback.

Then the party announced it would pay back the money to the supplier. It appears this indeed happened since it was reported later that the money suddenly disappeared from the account of the supplier.

If the refund was from the amount deposited in the account for which the President is the sole signatory, it means APM himself facilitated the transferring of the funds. If the refund came from another DPP account, it means the governing party transferred the funds.

Either way, the funds ended up in the back pocket of the supplier in total disregard of the emerging facts, as contained in the leaked damning ACB report, that the supplier dubiously increased the ask price by K400 million—an issue which smacks of  fraud.

To give the governing party K145 million after apparently defrauding government of K400 million is the reason why, not only ACB but more so the public, suspect the K145 million was stolen from the tax-payer.

The fact that the K400 million was easily claimed and paid when there was no clear justification for it, diminishes the claim to innocence by the beneficiaries of the so-called gift. It appears they were being palm-oiled for facilitating graft.

The K400 million is tax-payer’s money and could have been used to build a school block so our children do not learn under a tree or in structures that can easily collapse when strong wind blows.  It could also be used to shore up subventions to various sports genres which were allocated less than 10 percent of their budget proposals.

K400 million could perhaps have been used to repair ambulances that have become an eye-sore in parking lots at various district hospitals throughout the country. There are so many ways in which the K400 million could have been prudently spent in the delivery of public goods and services.

Instead, it was diverted into the back pocket of a supplier and the governing party a K150 million out of it!

Back in the days when Bakili Muluzi was at the helm, the Director of Public Prosecutions said up to 30 percent of the public revenue was going down the drain due to corruption. Not an iota has changed. If anything, Cashgate  has worsened the picture.

At first it used to be low level corruption. ACB would publish names of Immigration Officers or traffic officers caught in the act. People wondered why the ACB couldn’t catch any “big fish” in their net. Even when we heard of the Ministry of Education construction scam in 1997 or 1998 involving ministers and top civil servants, no “big fish” was held to account for their crimes.

Later, Muluzi himself had a K1.7 billion corruption case which is as good as dead. Bingu wa Mutharika had mysteriously accumulated K61 billion worth of assets in the eight years he was in power and yet, nothing has been done to establish the veracity of the claim and give back to the people if indeed it was hotly obtained.

Joyce Banda had on her watch K24 billion leak from the public purse yet she is busy resuscitating PP in readiness for 2019 elections.  Now, it’s APM with the so-called K145 million gift which he has simply given back to sender and now we hear he has been cleared.

The system has an annoying way of clearing the rot! Even top civil servants who facilitate dubious procurement deals equally enjoy impunity, as attested to by the DPP noted in one of her reports to Parliament which somehow was leaked to the media.

Add to all this the costs of the many botched contracts in government, cost overruns as a result of failure to complete infrastructural projects on time, the costs that are pushed to the innocent tax-payer when government ministries, departments and agencies default on their utility bills (which are in tens of billions of kwacha right now).

Do you still wonder why Malawians just toil to keep their government running while they, themselves, can hardly get out of the poverty web? n

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