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Are pieces falling into places?

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Puludzu

Just like many of you, I was equally glued to my TV set on Tuesday evening when President Lazarus Chakwera came out and dropped a bombshell that in light of the report he had requested the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) to submit to his office within 21 days, he had fired the country’s Inspector General of Police, George Kainja, and suspended his Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga and withheld delegated duties to Vice-President Saulos Chilima.

Much as this development might have been quite unsettling, particularly for the Tonse Alliance which formed government in June 2020, President Chakwera certainly demonstrated that he can deliver what Malawians want when called to act, especially on the corruption subject. Make no mistake: No charges or accusations have been levelled yet against any of the individuals that were fired or suspended; so, no one should make them feel guilty for something they might not have committed.

Unfortunately, however, in the court of public opinion, the reputation of these individuals might have been heavily soiled, hence it will not be easy for them to dust themselves up.

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But we need not act like saints or babies born just yesterday. We all know that our public system has for years been turned into a backyard where corrupt mafias or cartels play with public officers, especially when it comes to issues of handing out government contracts. This perhaps best explains why, for ages, local companies and entrepreneurs have been crying foul and demanding that they get an equal share at the table with those who have money and go around splashing it at public officers to land contracts worth billions of Kwacha. In fact, it is perhaps due to this that the term ‘tenderpreneurs’ was coined.

As others might have pointed out, public officers do hold their offices on public trust and once that becomes untenable, remedial steps ought to be taken and, little wonder, the President was left with no choice but to let Kainja walk away as there were allegedly some phone conversations.

I will not bury my head in the sand like that the proverbial ostrich and pretend that I did not hear that some of those named among the 84 are from the media. It is a pity that while we are fast to try and hold others accountable, our behaviour has equally been found wanting due to the conduct of those who are said to have benefitted, in one way or the other, from Zuneth Sattar. It does not matter how much those implicated might have pocketed or what it is they got out of their involvement but the mere fact that they have been mentioned is enough to make each and every journalist worth their name feel ashamed.

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The litmus test now before the investigating agency is to come up with concrete incriminating evidence, as pointed out by Chakwera, to nail the other concerned individuals, otherwise, the direction and whole journey we have embarked on now as a country to tame corruption (past and present) would have been a mockery and rendered fruitless.

Most importantly, how much inroad have we made in investigating the source of all these unsettling developments? Much as ACB is working with the Britain’s National Crime Agency, we should not leave everything to the British as the source of everything is right here, Malawi, once referred to as the land of milk and honey.

But sadly, it might not be plain sailing for the bureau as on numerous occasions, it has come out publicly to indicate that there appear to be some individuals within the system with vested interest in some of the matters being looked into, who obviously would not want to have their underhanded dealings laid bare. This means that those at the bureau need tight security now, more than ever, if we are not to see some ending up like the bureau’s former Head of Corporate Affairs, late Issa Njauju (I hope we are all aware of what happened to him and Malawians are awaiting the logical conclusion of investigation and action).

But, still, the bureau needs to spark because the President was left unimpressed with the report he was handed, which he branded substandard (regardless of the fact that his actions were influenced by the same). Could pieces be finally be falling into places in the fight against corruption? Could this be the unmaking of the Tonse Alliance? Only time will tell.

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