I have never met the Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe, but going by my interaction with him on phone, he should be a very affable man. Just as is the case with any other news source, Gondwe has called me, on a couple of occasions, to react to stories about him or his ministry. But the difference between him and other politicians has been that while others would try to intimidate and give out ultimatums, Gondwe would talk nicely, trying to reach a common understanding.
The last time we talked, a year ago, he invited me to meet him once I am in Lilongwe so that we know each other. I think I should see him once I save enough bus fare to take me to the Capital.
But Goodall, just like most of our politicians, is slowly developing a habit of backtracking on his word.
Just a few days ago, Gondwe told Ed Butler of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration should not be blamed for not ensuring independence of the ACB.
Our Chancellor of the Exchequer said the current ACB set-up is based on the legislation that was provided by other institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
But in an interview with our sister paper, The Daily Times on Wednesday, Gondwe could not comment on the BBC interview and simply said: “What is the problem here? I haven’t talked to the BBC in years.”
And that’s where I have serious reservations over the Minister’s conduct.
It seems to me that Gondwe is joining his Cabinet colleagues such as Grace Obama Chiumia who speak while absent — minded. It would also be interesting to appreciate the capacity in which Gondwe was taking questions concerning the ACB.
Is it the same obsession our politicians have for the international media that they would jump at any available opportunity to grant interviews while denying Malawians access to the same information through their local media?
Now, by saying that the Corrupt Practices Act was forced down on us, is the DPP administration not telling the world that it is unwilling to take corruption head — on just because the fight feels alien to them?
Granted that the ACB was forced on us and funded by the donors because we enjoyed the fruits of corruption, is the law not binding on us since we domesticated it? What does this say about President Peter Mutharika’s oath of office to protect and uphold the Constitution which also provides for creation of the ACB?
By the way, is it not Gondwe who has vowed, more than once, that Malawians would soon laud the government for turning the economy around? He is the same official who assured us that the economic miracle would happen by May. Three months after that deadline, we are being told to tighten our belts because the economy does not seem ready to look up anytime soon.
Then there is the Auditor General
The flip-flopping that is characteristic of our senior government officials is reaching worrying levels. You see, Deputy Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, Kamlepo Kalua, has picked a fight with the President. Kalua’s crime is to ask the President to release names of seven Cabinet ministers allegedly implicated in corrupt practices.
Different sectors have been commenting about government’s apparent reluctance to release the names.
The President then blew his top and challenged Kalua to furnish him with the names as the President did not have any.
A couple of days later, the Auditor General, Stephenson Kamphasa, told the media that he, too, did not have the names.
But Kalua raised a valid question: If the names are not there, why did Kamphasa seek legal opinion from the Attorney General on whether or not to release them?
The DPP should admit that information is power, as such, it has to be treated with due care and sincerity. Trouble with telling lies is that one needs to have sharp memory so as to repeat the same lie the next day.
And as it has been proved in the past two years, not many loud-mouths in the administration are blessed with such memory.
It is time the DPP government worked on its information management systems. There is so much firing on both cylinders, creating confusion in the process.