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For how long shall they fool us?

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Till when will we the voters be taken for granted by these people we elected and now call themselves honourable? As a general citizen, I want to ask: Till when will some of these Members Parliament (MPs) continue to fool us? When will this charade end? How do you explain the silence from the cheerleaders of transparency and accountability in the name of the opposition! Where is Lazarus Chakwera? Where is Kamulepo Kalua? Does a crime matter when committed by one side but not the other?

Take the case of the loan taken from EXIM Bank under Loan (Authorization) Bill, 23 of 2010 which was passed in Malawi Parliament on December 8, 2010. The purposes of the loan were normal and commendable: equipment for dam and canal construction to aid irrigation, excavators, motor graders, bulldozers among others. In addition, there were tractors, trailers, ridges, planters and rice threshers. This seemed a complete package to move the Green Belt Initiative dream to reality. If this loan were utilised as intended, it would be a major factor in transforming Malawi from reliance on rain-fed-reliant agriculture to an irrigation-supported farming country. The benefits of such a transformation would be far reaching and would probably mitigate the periodic shortages that Malawi faces. Eventually, the dream of turning the country into an exporting one other than importing nation would become a reality with positive outcomes on the exchange rate, inflation, interest rates and the economy.

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Agriculture was enticed to sell the tractors through Cabinet Paper Ref No. CAB7/11 dated April 22, 2013. This was an opportunity for greed and corruption among those that think they have an entitlement to public resources means that Malawi is now burdened with a loan that you and I will pay for the coming 20 years while it will be a few greedy politicians and civil servants who will benefit from the equipment which they sold to each other under circumstances that the Ombudsman described as maladministration across the board. Put it in simple language, maladministration means not only mismanagement but mismanagement tainted with inefficiency and dishonesty. This should be worrying to every Malawian since the excessive foreign debt burdens clearly have a negative impact on the realisation of human rights and on development. Foreign debt burdens have an adverse effect in two main interrelated ways. First, by crowding out public investment in essential social services and, secondly, through policy conditionalities attached to debt and debt repayment.

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When scarce national resources are diverted to the servicing of debt, there is little money left over for governments to fund the provision of essential public services such as education, health, water and electricity generation and distribution. In these circumstances, several human rights, including the rights to education, health, adequate food, water and development, are at risk or violated and resulting in many poorer living conditions for most of the voters.

Somehow, apart from a few newspapers and civil society organisations, there is little demand on those that were fingered in the report to be brought to book. I am also surprised that the vocal MPs in Parliament, yes, I mean people like People’s Party’s Kamulepo and Malawi Congress Party’s Chakwera are uncharacteristically quiet on this issue. Just like the debate on MPs’salaries, when the issue is common to all the major parties in Malawi, these politicians who the play the game of representing us seal an unholy alliance and take us for fools.

I am sure that if the list that is circulating of those that bought the tractors did not include the politicians from the three main parties, those senior civil servants who are also on the list would have been brought to book. The vocal opposition parties would be threatening to boycott debate in Parliament or indeed walk out unless the Ombudsman’s report was debated in Parliament.

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This sickening silence from Parliament is evidence that our politicians selectively remember and forget to suit the convenience of their parties. This or that politician only knows to trigger our bad memories and pretend to be on the side of the poor per their benefit and keep us in the state of hatred, distress, anger and grief so that we vote that party only. This is evidence that when it comes to selfishness, these MPs are just like you and me. Yet during campaigns and electioneering they want us to hate and kill one another in the name of political parties, region, ideology and ethnicity. Let them fool us no more!

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