One of the best socio-political commentators and analysts Prof. Patrick Lumumba of Kenya was once quoted as having said: “In Japan a corrupt man kills himself, in China they will kill him, in Europe they will jail him and in Africa he will present himself for election.”
What Lumumba said is meaningful, especially in terms of how African countries treat corruption with kid gloves. This is the reason it has found a fertile ground and is deep-rooted in the majority of African countries.
It is common knowledge that corruption has brought Malawi to its knees. The countless fraud cases in the country whereby taxpayers’ money just disappears is due to corruption. It is very unfortunate that corrupt people in this country present themselves for election.
Obviously, this is to try and be in position of power, which can protect them as they continue with corrupt deals. They easily win the election because they have enough money to bribe their way into power. To such people, fighting corruption does not make any sense at all because it is the practice that has brought them into power.
In Malawi, a number of people are believed to be corrupt. Malawians have really suffered. At some point in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government one could not get services without bribing someone. In fact, Malawi was known as one of the most corrupt countries.
However, leadership seemed not to care. Malawi has not been called a corrupt country for fun. Imagine, the Chikangawa man-made forest, which was once a pride of Malawi, got depleted due to corruption. Dubious companies could be seen felling trees for timber. Lorry loads of timber could be seen heading for Tanzania and Kenya.
It is doubtful if this was a government arrangement. In fact, no one could confidently come out and tell Malawians how much came out from these timber exports. This is what putting corrupt people into power means.
The main problem in this country related to corruption has been that even if one reports suspects to relevant authorities nothing much happens—apart from authorities saying “the matter is being investigated”. That narrative would go on forever. The short of it is that there is no investigation at all.
During the DPP era of President Peter Mutharika there were often media reports about big sums of money missing in various government offices. Sometimes, government would show that it is doing something on the matter and yet nothing was done. For example, there were reports that huge sums of money were missing at Malawi’s foreign missions, but there was no conclusion to the matter.
It is only during the current the Tonse Alliance administration that some corruption suspects have been brought to court. Without doubt, this is a warning to would-be corrupt people that a day will come when the long arm of the law will reach them and, if found guilty, will be punished accordingly.
The worrisome thing about corrupt people is that when they are in majority, they can put themselves and their cronies in high public offices. The economy run by such people would always remain in a downwards spiral. Probably, this happened to Malawi previously. In fact, this may be the genesis of the abject poverty that people are suffering from today.
It is everyone’s hope that the Tonse Alliance administration of President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima will end corruption by arresting and giving heavy punishment to corrupt people. n
With Emily MkamangaFeedback: firstname.lastname@example.org