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It is good for one man to die

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The probe into the dubious purchase of maize from Zambia has revealed a dangerous tapestry of conniving, lying, cover ups and possibly murders as corrupt minds are desperate to hide the truth.

This is not surprising as the history of mankind is replete with such incidents. Trouble with criminal behaviour is that, once one sin is committed, others have to come in to support the plot. When the Biblical King David slept with Uriah’s wife, he quickly came up with a plan to have Uriah slain on the battle front.

Any commission of inquiry would have established that Uriah’s death was natural and that no money changed hands. But the truth of the matter is that Uriah was sent to his early grave.

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But within the plotting and betrayal that goes on in political circles, one statement comes close to my heart. This is the statement of one ruler: Annas, the father-in-law of Caiphas, who advised that it is better for one man to die than for a whole nation to perish. I may add that especially if that one man acted greedily and corruptly.

Annas gave his advice to Jewish commanders at the height of a treason trial involving Jesus Christ. Perhaps what maybe important is not the source of this precedent, rather the circumstances that the whole drama occurred.

Annas, just like his boss Pontius Pilate had to make a difficult decision between keeping his friends or pleasing the poor people he presided over. He risked having the nation degenerate into chaos or worse still, completely erasing his legacy.

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And that is the crossroads Malawi has found itself at.

We have a corruption scandal that is shaking the foundations of our nation. Maize is as strategic to Malawi as nuclear energy is to the superpowers. It is a means of control and a symbol of state power. This is the reason why President Peter Mutharika had to assure the citizens that no-one would die of hunger in this country.

As expected, a forecast of food shortage delighted the hearts of some corrupt fat cats who immediately started planning on how they could loot the national treasury. They inflated figures of vulnerable population and exaggerated the tonnage to be imported.

Todate, only less than 5,000 tonnes of maize are said to have arrived in the country out of the budgeted for 100,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, a Letter of Credit has been issued to the supplier and poor Malawians are meeting the cost of this silly transaction. And this is a transaction that the poor are not and will never benefit from. They are not buying from Admarc because the price is astronomical and very soon the poor will start harvesting green maize which will force Admarc to throw away the maize as it will be rotten.

So no-one has accessed the 100,000 tonnes yet no-one is dying of food shortage. Was the import necessary? Were the figures correct?

Amid all this betrayal of public trust, the lying and forgery continues. False documents have been uttered and public officials have lied under oath. Contempt of court and contempt of the legislature have been committed and there is no end in sight as to how low our leaders will sink before owning up to their criminal conduct.

As expected, hired hands have worked overtime trying to come up with false documents to fool Malawians as rudimentary black propaganda rages on at the state owned broadcaster. All this is aimed at protecting a corrupt regime.

Ironically, we have seen how agents of the same government have acted swiftly to suspend chief executive officers who have fallen suspect. It has happened at Mera, it has happened at Teveta and it has happened at RA. Granted, the suspensions do not in any way suggest that the suspects are guilty. They are not even the accused, at least based on the law.

But in this stinking maizegate, the establishment does not want to send anyone home. The plot is too tight that any movement of a pawn will expose the castle, the bishop and the king. They have to be there and continue to lie through their teeth.

But do Malawians deserve all this mental torture? Is it not said that a man is entitled to be stupid as long as he is ready to pay the price for his stupidity? I verily believe that it is better for one man to “die” than for the whole nation to perish because of a senseless and corrupt transaction.

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