The price of public office

The circus in Malawi surpasses that by wild animals. Let me cut straight to the chase.

Last week has been a pool of unprecedented information. The case of the qualification of a witness who happens to be Ben Phiri—Minister of Local Government and his qualifications is one. Some argue that this matter was already in the public domain before lawyer Chikosa Silungwe grilled him in court about it. Well and good, but if the matter keeps arising, there may be cause for concern. Silungwe claims he was preventing a case of perjury—ascertaining the minister did not lie under oath in his testimony as well as academic qualifications.

Without judging the honourable minister, I think it is time he cleared himself  with backup documentation about the exact place he obtained all of his qualifications. Mr. Minister, please clarify to the Malawi nation— to which you owe adequate information as a public officer. For starters, did you get the PhD at the so-called Texas’s Cypress International Institute? Could it maybe have been Cyprus International Institute or simply Jerusalem Bible College as per your court testimony? Can we also have traceable referees and exact locations of the institutions you are affiliated to (for bachelors, masters and PhD) and possibly prospectuses for referrals?  

We all need to know because right now, almost everyone is confused. Do we continue to refer to you as Dr. or we wait unit the record has been set straight. What does the file in your ministry—an office answerable to voters and Malawians say? And while you are at it, what exactly are the names of the institutions you attended? Right now, Silungwe seems to know you better than yourself, sir.

Surprisingly, forgetting one’s school at whatever level is kind of hard. It comes as a real taste of one’s integrity, therefore, when they fail to recall exactly where they attended school. If the minister cannot speak, then the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) or indeed any academic institution must undertake a probe to clear the wind. Right now, Phiri is a subject of ridicule and he should itch to clarify. If he is alright with the hullaballoo, then we demand a probe. That’s the price of occupying a public office. No secrets, speculations, assumptions, short-cuts, lies, pretence or compromise. 

We also have one Symon Vuwa Kaunda—Minister of Lands and Urban Development.  He went to town accusing Malawi Congress Party (MCP)’s Lilongwe City South West MP Nancy Tembo of lying for blowing the whistle about the sale of Livimbo primary and secondary schools. He told the nation that the facts from Tembo were unchecked only for him to resurface this week that government would take legal action against two businesspersons for encroaching on the schools’ land. Ahmed Yajub Laheri maintains he bought the land and has documents to prove it.

Vuwa-Kaunda should apologise to Tembo and the nation. Thereafter, he should resign for embarrassing government. Ministers just don’t blurt out information, they verify through appropriate officers.

For thetwo ministers, these are reasons enough for Malawians to take to the streets to demand answers and even their dismissal if need be for taking us for granted.

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