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Not Good all the way

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Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe, has done a brilliant work of keeping our national kitty. As the first Finance Minister during the reign of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, Goodall etched his name on the hearts of many Malawians. He was suddenly sent to Local Government ministry, a move many believed was meant to redirect the glory on his boss.

When President Peter Mutharika grabbed the baton stick from then president Joyce Banda, he remembered the sterling performance Goodall made as a chancellor of the exchequer. Mutharika quickly brought Goodall back managing our finances.

Unfortunately, one bad grain of maize can spoil a plateful of tasty grains that one has taken earlier and that is the fate Goodall’s reputation has suffered.

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Malawians now remember the inconsistent statements that Goodall has been making. Two years ago, Goodall challenged Malawians that he would turn the economy around and that Malawians would clap hands for the Mutharika administration. When that vow came to nought, Goodall quickly explained that a caveat to his promise was that the economy would improve “subject to good rains and weather conditions”.

But his undoing came in when he agreed to play Santa Claus through a largesse of K3.4 billion to 86 members of Parliament (MPs). The figure rose when all the MPs agreed to equitably partake of the windfall, bringing the amount to K4 billion and the number of beneficiaries to 193.

Instead of taking refuge in the fact that he had spread the risk by roping in the other gullible and greedy MPs, Goodall lost himself in reason and blurted incoherency. He firstly argued that the money was not from tax payers but a donor. Pressed hard, Goodall said the donor opted to remain anonymous. But that was incomprehensible as one person could not mortgage 16 million souls to unknown “donor” conditions.

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Goodall then said the money was from a budget surplus. He insensitively boasted that the K4 billion was money that he could even throw away had he so wished. His critics quickly punched halls in this new lie as the Finance Minister’s budget had a deficit of K9 billion.

Goodall run out of his tricks and queried why he was the only target of a firing squad. He contended that his Cabinet colleague at Local Government was the one who came up with the names and had to share the blame equally.

Seeing that Malawians could not buy his argument, Goodall said the intended expenditure was an experiment. But he ought to know better that he could not experiment with people’s lives, especially people who had persevered a lot as government promised to fix power and water shortages to no avail.

But Goodall is advanced in age. At 81, he is not supposed to be getting ultimatums from the likes of Charles Kajoloweka, boys young enough to be his grandchildren. He tried to call the Kajolowekas to a round table but the young men could not have it.

Perhaps Goodall’s Principal Secretary, Ben Botolo, saw how desperate his boss was becoming. He pleaded with Malawians to have mercy on Goodall whom he described as the “old man”. However, Botolo fell short of explaining why the old man was busy doing a boy’s job.

The problem is that due to public pressure, Goodall owned the fight. He might be sincere by saying he was only providing the funds but he was not the architect of the scheme. He was better off leaving such fights to youngsters such as Leader of the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa or Samuel Tembenu. The two have demonstrated the capacity to give opposition MPs rope enough to hang themselves.

Does anyone remember how Nankhumwa and Tembenu excited the House into passing bills that no longer make sense? Yes legislation such as the Referendum Act. Nankhumwa also managed to sedate vocal People’s Party and some Malawi Congress Party MPs to shoot down the Electoral Reforms Bills.

Today, Malawians are paying dearly for Goodall’s machinations. The government has just announced a freeze on promotions and recruitments in the public sector. But the ban will soon prove counterproductive. No public worker will put in effort when they know that they would not be promoted. What with cuts on travel and other incentives?

Goodall has said more than enough on his involvement. So far, it has

Feedback: ichitosi@bnltimes.com

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