There is a catchphrase in the corridors of power: Do not politicise corruption.
At face value, this sentiment provides hope to Malawians who have for a long time cried out that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration is applying selective justice in fighting corruption.
But looking at this new mantra, one can easily see through it that it is another way to canonise the perceived selective justice.
Even motives of the crusaders of this new line remain suspect in the court of public opinion. First, it was the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Lucas Kondowe, who admonished Malawians never to “politicise corruption”. Kondowe postulated that politicians are “abusing” the term corruption to soil the reputation of their rivals. He also boasted that his team is professional and knows what to do to root out corruption.
This reasoning might have come as sweet melody to the ears of President Peter Mutharika whose administration has come under heavy criticism from bilateral partners as well as most Malawians. Mutharika took Kondowe’s lecturing further by challenging Malawians to bring evidence of corruption or simply “abduct” the suspects in his Cabinet, tie them up and dump them at Capital Hill Roundabout. Information Minister, Nicholas Dausi, would be better placed to explain whether the President’s argument is an “innuendo or a conjecture” going by recent developments.
But many Malawians would be worried to see a fox providing prescription for Newcastle disease. The fox is not expected to be a veterinarian for poultry. Even my line minister, Dausi, would describe such voluntarism as “illogical, malafide, repugnant, paranoia or simply untrue”!
Kondowe is in the most vantage position to show that the fight against corruption has not turned political. He is mandated by law and funded by our taxes to do nothing but take corruption head-on. The taxpayer and other stakeholders do not expect him to plot graphs and illustrate how the ACB is fighting the menace.
Surely, Kondowe cannot take pride in talking about how many district council clerks he has scared with warrants of arrest or how many village development committee members he has cautioned in Mulanje.
What the taxpayer expects is to see the ACB vacate some indefinite injunction obtained by DPP executive members restraining the ACB from prosecuting them in the presence of apparent dazzling evidence.
For the President, he even has a rare opportunity to show that he is not politicising the fight. Mutharika can just free the ACB to pounce on Cabinet ministers and DPP executive committee members who corruptly got licences and plundered a public treasure that is Viphya Plantation. He already ordered his boys and girls out of the plantations after they had stolen enough.
Then he can allow the ACB, the Financial Intelligence Unit turned Authority (FIA) and the Fiscal Police to do their job on his ministers and allies who have suddenly become billionaires as if they benefit from some miracle money. This does not require the taxpayer to give the President any evidence because the suspects should simply be asked to explain their rags-to-riches flight in a space of two years.
In any case, asking whistle-blowers to provide proof of wrong doing is misplaced. The whistle-blowers are what they are and not experts in crime busting. That is the very reason why the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) extends protection to those who raise the red flag against corruption.
This is why politicians cry wolf when they are out of power. Because they massage corruption, any new administration would simply pounce on them and endear itself to the masses.
The worrying part of the new position taken by the ACB boss and the President is that it reverses all the gains that the country seemed to have made by hosting two anti-corruption conferences within the past two months. These latest utterances may be understood to mean that the conferences were mere window dressing and had no political will attached to them.
Perhaps, I should not comment on the President’s attack on perceived corruption within the media because such a public statement may be deemed as an attempt by the President to politicise corruption.
Look, the media are a mere mirror of what the society is. If one is serious about their looks, they should take off the musk, stand before the mirror and see whether they would like the image being reflected. If the image looks repulsive, then the solution is not to break the mirror but to change the image. Any serious administration would pat the media at the back for helping them to detect corruption wherever it appears. But blaming a cat for eating a fish will not stop other fish from smelling invitingly.
It is, therefore, high time that the ACB boss got back to business and brought us the big fishes that are muddling the otherwise calm waters. Pontificating on how not to politicise corruption will not bring the nation the desired results. The taxpayers drafted Kondowe’s job description and they know that his team is professional. It is up to Kondowe and his troops to live up to the expectation instead of politicising this otherwise straight-forward issue.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues