Blue Orators, you and I are remunerating three salaries of a serving commander of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) because, for one reason or another, two of the generals were prematurely ‘redeployed’.
By the way, wherever you find ‘redeployed’ in this article, read it as ‘fired on political grounds’.
The current MDF Commander, General Griffin Upuni-Phiri, and his predecessors general Ignacio Maulana and before him general Henry Odillo are all enjoying packages entitled to a serving MDF commander, at our expense.
The packages include monthly fuel – when ambulances are grounded due to lack of fuel; airtime – a luxury in these hard times; VIP Masm health insurance – whose monthly contribution dwarfs salaries of nurses, medical assistants and our police officers, to mention a few.
Just to let you in, senior government officials on Grade D, like the former army commanders, receive a whopping K666,000 each month.
In a year, therefore, we are gifting the two fired generals K666,000 x 12 x 2 = K15,984,000, not for managing national security, no.
In the case of General Maulana, it is for “watching over” grain of maize – which we do not have by the way, and for General Odillo, it is “defence” of some mysterious treasure at the Airport Development Limited (ADL).
Why the equivalent of West Point (United States Military Academy (USMA)) and Sandhurst (the British equivalent to West Point) graduates have now been reduced to watchmen of non-existent maize grain and imaginary investments in airports no-one would be interested to loot is something only President Peter Mutharika and those foreign institutions piling bogus awards on him and his cronies can explain.
What I know for a fact is that the K15,984,000 wasted on these two expensive ‘watchmen’ could be loaned to at least 46 needy students and enable them to access the now exorbitant university education.
The funds being so irresponsibly spent could empower your child, brother, sister or cousin, who dropped out of the university due to economic hardships.
And if educated, these youths would grow into the professionals we need to develop Malawi or, in the least, pay the taxes we need to invest in infrastructure and avoid borrowing.
This wisdom and pragmatism is, however, in short supply in our dearest Mutharika.
His modus operandi vis-à-vis developing Malawi is ‘redeploying’ people, even when in some cases they did no wrong other than blocking a corruption deal incubated by senior government ministers. This, however, is a story for another day.
If the army was the only institution where public funds are getting squandered, I would not have written at all.
But in addition to the army mess, we are also paying the former chief executive officer for Blantyre City Council (BCC) Ted Nandolo, now ‘redeployed’ to Malawi Gaming Board, the perks he was getting when he was at BCC.
You may recall that government suspended Nandolo allegedly for exercising ministerial powers in discharging some of his duties, contrary to his mandate.
And r ight away f rom his suspension, director of administration Alfred Chanza was appointed Acting CEO and later confirmed CEO, resulting in you and I paying benefits to two CEOs.
At a time when the City is struggling to collect garbage and light the streets; and while it is squeezing motorists on parking fees to just make ends meet, does it make any sense to have two highly remunerated CEOs?
I will leave this to Mayor Noel Chalamanda, his councillors and Blantyre residents to reflect because, if anything, Nandolo’s indictment by State House, according to Muhlabase Mughogho, in one way tells us all that the council has been sleeping on the job.
What I find most irritating about all this is that, as conversant with the law as Mutharika is said to be, he did not learn a thing when he was warming the bench – as a super sub in 2012 to 2014 – from Joyce Banda’s blunders which lost us millions between 2012 and 2014, paying former inspector general of police Peter Mukhito and Matilda Katopola, among others, that she dismissed just as willy-nilly.
If anything, Mutharika has raised the game because alongside the two generals, Odillo’s deputy major general John Msonthi, former deputy inspector general Nelson Bophani, former principal secretary for Mining Leonard Kalindekafe are also in a similar situation, collecting unearned monthly salaries and other benefits when Malawi cannot afford to pay salary arrears for the hapless teachers or indeed hire trained but unemployed health professionals.
As if the local mess was not enough, talk is now about wholesale placements and recalls to and from our foreign missions whose economic sense can only be explained by His Excellency’s new found pals at the African Leadership Magazine Group.
And as we speak, while Mutharika is preparing to ‘redeploy’ Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority Chief Executive Officer Raphael Kamoto for the umpteenth time, Kamoto’s only qualified successor – as far as Mutharika is concerned – is Cashgate-tainted Ishmael Chioko.
What beggars belief is that when these ridiculous but costly decisions are being made, people we previously deemed intelligent, stand up in defence of the baloney.
With respect to Cashgate-tainted Chioko, the Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale – of all people – weighed in defending the appointment of a money-laundering suspect.
Kaphale told the media he is far from worried about the status of Chioko as everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court.
But check this: For some reason, the same reasoning was not applied when firing Odillo, Maulana, Kalindekafe and many others.
Kaphale said: “You don’t want to freeze people’s lives simply because they are suspects. One has to be tried. If he has a case and besides he is just acting.”
Blue Orators, if you cannot smell a rat from this rubbish, go for a check-up at Zomba Mental Hospital.
Look here, who – in their right minds – would replace a CEO suspended for his overzealousness in buying maize for starving Malawians from an inappropriate budget and foiling a billion kwacha contract awards for an outright suspect of money laundering answering a case at the Anti- Corruption Bureau?
For crying out loud, why then was Odillo immediately redeployed when he was just a suspect?
Why was Maulana – innocent as he is – reduced to a watchman? How about Kalindekafe?
Blue Orators, when I stand here and declare that for all practical intents and purposes, Malawi under President Mutharika is beyond redemption, the stinking duplicity and wastefulness above is why.
Look at it this way: imagine that Airtel Malawi or TNM were paying, in addition to the sitting CEO, a couple more goons for doing nothing.
Would Airtel or TNM survive in this highly competitive global market and unfriendly economic environment?
Some can argue that these are for-profit companies. Fine!
Then show me just one non-profit organisation (read NGO) that actually delivers on its mandate and pays two redundant CEOs but continues to attract donor funding.
For the commercial entities, shareholders would withdraw their capital and for the NGO, stakeholders – including donors – would pull out their support.
This sums up why Malawi ranks the poorest of all the nations.
Our decisions and leadership, plus the way we choose leaders, are not only problematic but too ill-advised to lift Malawi from its doldrums.
Until we start getting angry at such third-grade leadership and demand accountability, future generations will curse us.
And they will be right.
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