Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Dalitso Kabambe says public servants need to be held accountable on corruption if the country is to develop economically.
Speaking at a two-day media training in economic reporting, Kabambe said the blame is mostly pushed on politicians, yet the vice is endemic in the public service.
He said: “I have been in the system for 20 years. I can tell you the problem are public servants; public officers. And they use politicians as scapegoats. We need to advise political leaders rightly.
“We push the blame on politicians, but the ones selling public land or plots fraudulently, are they politicians? It’s officers or public servants. When they get allowances without travelling, is it really the minister who has sanctioned that?”
Kabambe said there are many activities taking place in ministries which will continue to drain public funds if public officers do not take the lead in implementing reforms.
He cited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation where he was principal secretary before his appointment as governor in 2017.
“When I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I found that they had a lot of arrears with garages, airlines, agents, water boards, Escom and even staff allowances.
“As someone coming from Treasury where prudence was paramount, we decided to put in some measures to cut on expenditure,” the RBM Governor said.
Kabambe said they reviewed the Foreign Policy and found duplication of roles of diplomats in various embassies which was draining public resources.
He said the restructuring pushed down the ministry’s budget from K17 billion to K4 billion.
The Governor said the budget for rentals in the embassies came down from K8 billion to K3 billion and the budget for school fees for diplomats’ children came down from K1.8 billion to K1 billion.
“And now we were able to pay all the arrears. And we managed to have various property for the ministry. Was this issue to do with political will? It was just part of a civil servant doing his job,” said Kabambe.
On his part, Nation Publications Limited (NPL) managing editor Ephraim Munthali, who was the training’s facilitator, said Malawi is facing some of these challenges because some journalists lack the basics of economic reporting to expose various anomalies.
“Every journalist needs some grasp of economics as in the end everything comes down to pocket book issues and because money is behind a lot of what politicians do.
“Politicians, bureaucrats, companies and even non-profit organisations use statistics to promote their successes and hide their failures,” he said.
Munthali said journalists can report competently on economics and finances if they know how the government raises money and how it uses its tax-raising powers.