By Stephen Dakalira
I cannot say that the musings of one Martha Chizuma, pertaining to the country’s ability to fend off stinking corruption, came as a surprise and were any different from what I have held in mind over the years. A lot of people, including some in higher places, are simply too steeped in corruption and are sadly the ones oiling its wheels when the populace expected them to be exemplary and aid the anti-graft fight.
What, however, must have moved heads was the bold declaration that Chizuma made on Tuesday that she sees the Malawi nation failing to meet its development aspirations that have been spelled out in the Malawi 2063 agenda; yes, that highly-talked about blueprint which some have touted as the gateway to economic prosperity.
Come now, you do not have to act as if you were not aware that the level of corruption in this country is so deep that a 5 foot 11 inch person like myself can completely drown in it.
What, however, most Malawians are interested to know is whether there is any grain of truth to the claims that have been making rounds, for a while now, in some social circles that certain people have a ‘chokehold’ on the ACB Czar that is, in a way, preventing her and her officers from going full throttle against certain ‘untouchables’. If, like she has insisted on more than one occasion, that no one is standing in her way and there indeed is a lot of goodwill, then bless her.
She must show to everyone that she is in it to win it by taking down self-created ‘lords’ who have thrived at the expense of the money belonging to Malawians and donor partners. We sure cannot afford to have an anti-graft institution that goes about with a ‘defeatist’ attitude.
But we, Malawians, have all the confidence in our beloved Martha, what more with the United States Department of State this week recognizing her as one of the 12 new anti-corruption champions! She has been billed as someone who has persistently demonstrated leadership, courage and impact in preventing, exposing and combating corruption. That we already knew but perhaps it is just the tonic the ACB Director General needed to have fresh impetus to plough through the corruption fields blocking our way to Malawi2063 aspirations.
Yes, there might be a mound and staggering amounts of money involved in cases that ACB is investigating but there should not be a deterrent (whoever and whatsoever) to the bureau from attaining justice, especially where taxpayers’ money has been squandered.
For the ‘untouchables’ that are busy dancing and rolling themselves silly in this muddy puddle, thinking they might not be touched, they better think again. It might not necessarily be good ol’Martha catching you right in the act but you never know; somebody else could do the bidding for her since Malawians are no longer tolerating nonsense.
That aside, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves (is that not what we are just good at as a people, being ashamed?) by tolerating corruption to grow to such an extent that it could choke someone to death if left at the rate it is flourishing.
The other drawback, in my view, has been the tendency by politicians to use the same anti-graft avenue to silence or settle political scores with opponents. This only goes to show that the battle sometimes may not entirely be sincere.
Now, imagine being prevented from attaining the Malawi 2063 agenda, even after breaking it down into doable 10-year plan, just because of the festering corruption! We can do better, people!
I am certain that the chaps at the National Planning Commission or indeed authorities spearheading the 2063 Agenda took no offence in the statement by the ACB Chief as she was not trying to be a prophet of doom but simply trying to project a picture of how big a task it is to stump out corruption in this country.
I can only hope that following the commemoration of Anti- Corruption Day last Thursday, there will be no more lip service but only action that will squeeze out what is left of the corruption in our DNA.