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Callous minds

There are callous individuals at Blantyre City Council (BCC) who are willing to go to every length to satiate their appetite for luxury.

They are living in a stinking city; a city without adequate proper roads and a working waste management system; a city that is in dire need of redemption.

But its Mayor and deputy are reported to have convinced other councillors to approve a purchase of a Toyota Prado TX for the former and a Toyota Fortuner for the latter.

It is for their pleasure, their luxury. When it comes to that, nothing else should matter, so they believe. So, they will allow the city’s roads to remain in bad conditions while they enjoy the pleasure of driving those posh cars they are craving.

While the two officials might believe they deserve the cars—in line with their conditions of service—they must first look at whether such luxury is necessary at this point when the city is in a mess.

But Mdzukulu, we all know that these people seldom turn back when it comes to making decisions that satisfy their appetite.

We have seen that happening with Members of Parliament who unite every time they want to achieve something that is common among them.

They have done that when increasing allocations to the Constituency Development Fund or raising their salaries and other benefits. It always works for them.

Even when Malawians are languishing with hunger, their consciences do not convict these officials such that they will give themselves huge amounts of money as long as it makes them happy.

Mdzukulu, what the two bosses at BCC want to do is morally wrong.

They are, of course, just borrowing a leaf from what others have done before. Questions have been raised before about whether some of the fuel guzzlers that some Chief Executive Officers of public institutions should really be driving them.

There has never been a clear justification why they cannot go for ‘manageable’ vehicles in this small economy which should be protected as much as possible.

In other countries, austerity measures are a reality, not just some public relations stunts which do not translate into real action on the ground.

Mdzukulu, there was a time Chief Secretary to the Government issued some bold statement on controlling public expenditure by, among other things, directing that government vehicles should not be found outside their stations during holidays and weekends without the authorisation of Controlling Officers.

It has not worked. It is not working and the Chief Secretary knows it.

Government vehicles are everywhere on personal errands of some officers. They are even used to ferry farm produce and bricks not meant for any public entity.

In fact, even at beer drinking places, these cars are found. Elsewhere in the world, where governments are serious about taking care of public resources, that cannot happen.

No one is really serious about saving the little money found in this country. So even when it is clear that we are failing to meet our targets in revenue collection, some callous individuals will still want to buy expensive vehicles for themselves because nothing else matters to them.

They will continue augmenting precedents set by others and the trend will continue because it has been normalised.

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