My heart bleeds at the mention of billions of Kwacha that are alleged to have been blown under the very nose of former president Peter Mutharika while he was in charge of state affairs.
This past week was certainly an eventful one for the country’s security agencies because if they were not rounding up suspects, then they were busy asking them uncomfortable questions following shattering revelations that people imported cement worth about K 5 billion using Mutharika’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TPIN).
In fact, let me be blunt – I am not oblivious to the fact that it must have been a chain of individuals (to borrow somebody’s expression, ‘a chain of nyusensi’) that collaborated to pull off this maddening scheme which fleeced the poor Malawian because I am sure that the money must have certainly been drained from coffers funded by taxpayers. And yet in the face of all this, somebody somewhere has the cheek to brand the arrests associated with such misdeeds witch-hunting? Please, you need to have your head examined.
As if that was not enough, the media was awash with news that there was merry making at Escom where some individuals, suspected to be party cadres of the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (who had little or nothing to do with electricity distribution) were ‘swimming’ in fuel while some employees were struggling to access the same.
I needed not to waste my energy and space on these ‘dark deeds’ but the anger welling up inside of me, which I am sure a majority of the population equally share, has left me with no choice but to vent my frustrations in public. Why should someone feel entitled to public resources simply because they support the governing party or because their vehicle registration numbers bear the words ‘ana a adadi’?).
It hurts a lot just to think that several people have ended up losing their lives after failing to receive adequate care in some of our public hospitals and yet, here was a government that clearly did not set its priorities right and did not give a hoot about the ordinary person (so long as he or she did not show blue exuberance).
What kind of leadership can afford to blow a whopping K5 billion for bags of cement when people are failing to get a mere pain killer at a public hospital? Mind you, the said consignment was for personal use of the president (abuse of presidential privileges, perhaps?). I do not wish to prejudge anyone but certainly, Malawians deserve to know exactly what transpired for up to 1.2 million bags of cement to be imported by the former president within a short span, and if it was not Mutharika himself, then the culprits must certainly be held to account.
We should not later be told that the case has ‘evaporated into thin air’ or that evidence has ’grown wings’…I hope people at the fiscal police are aware that the spotlight is equally on them as regards to how they carry out their investigations and how far they would go. Sometimes Malawians have been sold a dummy by such institutions when they had expected much from them; hopefully that will not be the case.
Sadly, this could just be a tip of the iceberg; there must be more rot waiting to be exposed and it will not be easy cleaning up the mess in the public service. Let us just hope that the new Tonse Alliance administration, led by President Lazarus Chakwera, will not fall into the same trap of thinking that now because they are in government, it is time for kudzipepesa (rewards)…that will not be acceptable!
And then social media has been bubbly as well this past week with proclamations to the effect that there are also some mortals within the blue camp who thrived on peddling stuff such as chickens and samosas at an astronomical price.
What kind of chicken or samosa would fetch the price of K35,000 or K50,000. I cannot help but shed a tear (not those crocodile tears some women shed at a fancy hotel in Blantyre back in 2019) when I think of what difference all this money could have made had it been put to good use by the then government.
Surely, the price of essential commodities such as maize would not have sky-rocketed like it did. While we were busy regressing through the ‘grand feast’ championed by the powers-that-be, fellow African countries like Rwanda and Tanzania were busy building their economies and it is no surprise that the world is singing praises about their transformative leadership.
Forgive me I have to stop here now because my poor heart cannot take it anymore. To all those investigating the corruption allegations that happened in the country over the last few years I say; whoever had something to do with the cement, chickens, samosas etcetera…hold them to account.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).