There is a rich adage in the Malawian society that goes like: wamisala anaona nkhondo. This literally means that a mad man spotted an advancing enemy army unfortunately, most of his fellow villagers dismissed his “intelligence” as being part of his hallucinations.
Take the issue of 13 case files that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has been saying it is investigating. Rumphi East Member of Parliament, Kamlepo Kalua, has been crusading that seven of the 13 files incriminated Cabinet ministers.
In January this year, Kalua said there were six files remaining following some changes in the Cabinet.
Kalua’s insistence on the existence of the 13 files put him at loggerheads with the government. President Peter Mutharika has maintained that the files do not exist. He has challenged Kalua to bring evidence of his allegation, promising that he would not hesitate to fire any Cabinet minister implicated in the files.
As a politician, Kalua refused to mention the names saying he would be trapped in injustice where the Cabinet ministers would sue him, forcing him into bankruptcy and loss of his parliamentary seat.
As the President made the denials, the Auditor General, Stevenson Kamphasa, turned to the Attorney General (AG), Kalekeni Kaphale, asking for legal advice on whether to release names of the suspects in the files. The AG advised Kamphasa against releasing the names in the interest of justice.
This begs the question as to why the Auditor General had to seek advice on whether to release something that he did not have. Was Kamphasa trying to be politically correct and not step on the toes of the powerful?
The blame game then pitted Kamlepo, who is vice chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, against his own chairperson, Alekeni Menyani. Menyani flatly denied knowledge of the said files.
Meanwhile, the President continued to dismiss Kamlepo’s assertions. The latest of the President’s plea of innocence, on behalf of his ministers, was this week when he laid a foundation stone for an irrigation project at Bwanje in Ntcheu.
Towards the end of last year, Kamphasa, organised a press briefing where he said the files did not exist. Then the Attorney General cleared some companies that were implicated in the files.
On Tuesday this week, the Accountant General, William Matambo, told the Pac and the Budget and Finance Committee that figures in the K236 billion Cashgate, that encase the 13 files, might come down further. Matambo blamed flawed government accounting system for the perceptions around these figures.
But that was not the end of drama as, on Wednesday this week, Kamphasa blamed the ACB for frustrating the probe of the 13 files.
Kamphasa disclosed that his office furnished the ACB with the files for them to investigate and report back to the Auditor General but there was no progress. He said that the companies were dubiously awarded government contracts and also inflated figures for which they were paid.
Now that Kamphasa has made a turn and confessed that the files really exist, is he going to explain his earlier statements made at the press briefing? What is it that Kamphasa feared to lose then that he does not care about now? Is his tenure of office secure and who is giving him this kind of confidence?
It will also be interesting to hear a story line that Menyani will come up with now. How could he be not aware of the files when his committee provides oversight role on public funds? Was his stand influenced by the wisdom of premature risk being madness?
I also remember that Kaphale cleared some five companies who were implicated in the 13 files. But I appreciate the AG’s reasoning. It is not like the companies were and remain innocent but if the fool did not go to the market, bad ware would not sell.
The companies inflated the figures but they did not force the government to pay up. On that technicality, I am with the AG. Where I might branch off is when the Accountant General says that, besides inflating the figures, the government contracts were awarded dubiously. Perhaps we should also interrogate it further by saying when the companies inflated the figures, were they not mindful that the government would shield them?
With the revelation from Kamphasa, should we say Kamlepo “saw the war”? Were those who dismissed him doing that in good faith or they were protecting their own interests?
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