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I also keep cash at home, so what?

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Corruption and theft of public money is evil, no matter where it occurs and by whom. People who find themselves at the wrong end of the law must, therefore, be punished; yes, punished severely as prescribed by the laws of the land. If Malawi is to develop, there is need to create a country where our children will be able to sustain and strengthen good character. This can be done by punishing corruption and rewarding honesty. The way things are run in this country creates the impression that money is an end and not a means to an end. It is as if honesty makes one poor and dishonesty is the only way to success. This leads to negativity in all spheres of life and that is why it is hard these days to find good news reported out of Malawi, despite so many good deeds happening.

It was reported in the papers that the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) one Tuesday found thousands of dollars and millions of kwacha stashed inside suitcases hidden in the bedroom of former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Honourable George Chaponda. So what?

I also keep cash in old 500g sugar packets (not enough for suitcases) in my house. Of course, I hide mine in a small hole in the corner of my bedroom. If I hide

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my little change— that, in most cases, is not more than a few hundred kwacha in a hole, did you expect Hon Chaponda to leave suitcases full of millions of Malawi Kwacha and thousands of the famous United States dollar in his living room?

However, the amount of money being mentioned is so huge that it reminds me of the time I taught economics to first, year students. I kept emphasising to them that keeping money at home, instead of the bank, contributes to economic recession. It does not matter whether the money is legit or not. The logic is that money in banks, and not suitcases at home, is good because saving is a factor for investment and those in need of money could access it through loans from banks for investment.

Another reason is that banks use deposits made by customers to create money for the economy. Keeping cash at home in millions means that the Malawi economy cannot create the billions needed for investment and needed to stimulate the economy. In this case, millions of loanable funds were locked out of the economy. That is why, unlike Hon Chaponda, the Nutcracker keeps in his bedroom money that is sufficient for emergencies. At the current Liquidity Reserve Ratio of 7.5 percent, the money multiplier becomes 13 and, using this multiplier, it means that, by keeping the K124 million at home, the Malawi economy was denied an equivalent on K1.65 billion Malawi Kwacha in loanable funds.

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In addition, by keeping money at home, Hon Chaponda and others like him make the job of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor difficult because monetary policy is almost impossible if the RBM has little or no control over money circulating in bedrooms and outside the banking system.

The difference between the Nutcracker and Hon Chaponda is that he was at that time an eminent personality serving at the highest levels of government while the Nutcracker is just an ordinary citizen, the subject of Senior Chief Kadewere. The man is a vice president of the ruling DPP party, the man is an accomplished lawyer I am told. With such accolades, the Nutcracker believes that the man knows the basic economics above.

So, the question is, what would be the motivation for a serving Cabinet minister to deny the economy additional funds by his conduct? Did Hon Chaponda understand that keeping money at home will slow down the free flow of cash, reduce tax remittances from banks, and contribute to poor economic control tools? Did he know the adverse effects on Malawi’s economic situation of keeping $58,000 at home instead of the banking system? Was he aware that this has potential to lead to a foreign exchange gap?

What makes this more intriguing is the fact that this is the man whose conduct the commission of inquiry on Maizegate described as “worth of further investigations”. This is a man whose conduct in his dealings with Transglobe was “most inappropriate, suspicious and raising issues of corrupt practices”, according to the commission.

For such a man to then have between $58,000 and MK124 million in cash at home is suspicious. But, as usual, suspicion is different from being guilty. The Nutcracker hopes that the ACB will conduct the necessary investigations and conclude the case as quickly as possible. If found guilty, he should have no sympathies from the many patriotic anti-corruption faithfuls and tax payers. If not guilty, let him enjoy the freedoms of the country as a bonafide citizen of the land. Next time there is a spate of robberies of suitcases in Malawi, do not be surprised!

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