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Smiling at serious criminality

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In advanced societies whose citizens have stopped smiling at criminality, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe could have been arrested and prosecuted for concocting a scheme to siphon K3.4 billion out of Treasury as uncovered by this publication last Saturday.

There was a reason why the laws of the land stipulated that Parliament must approve every tambala that the government spends, empowering MPs to take a decision on every vote of the budget Finance ministers present after a stringent scrutiny.

At the end of that thorough process, MPs debate the necessary appropriation bills to cement the fact that, when a national budget is passed, no one can tamper with it willy-nilly as it is the law.

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The framers of our laws made sure to follow this worldwide rigorous way of formulating and executing national budgets to protect this country’s taxpayers’ money.

But, for whatever reason, Gondwe, backed by President Peter Mutharika’s administration, thinks the fact that he is Finance Minister gives him liberty to do whatever he wants with our tax-in the process committing serious crimes—and get away with it.

The Finance Minister has not minced words in driving home the point that his budget is off tangent.

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He has told us the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) cannot collect enough taxes in an economy that is in doldrums as the private sector, the cash cow, is bleeding

Donors such as the European Union (EU) cannot come to the party although they showed initial signs to engage in budgetary support.

Simply put, the books cannot balance and Goodall Gondwe has no clue on how to make this happen as he seeks to protect the extravagance of the Executive by instead, punishing the poor.

You would think Malawians have suffered enough as a result of this blatant economic mismanagement from Gondwe.

And it turns out that is not the case and this time it all borders on criminality. Despite telling Malawians that the budget cannot balance, which will necessitate cuts, Gondwe has still found K3.4 billion which he wanted to use, without Parliament’s knowledge, to reward DPP, PP, and UDF MPs who largely voted against the electoral reforms bills in December last year.

This is outright criminal and shameful for Gondwe to engage in.

It is yet another proof that Gondwe is way beyond past it and has lost the Midas touch he once had to manage the economy.

What we see, instead, is total mismanagement, cluelessness and, now, even open criminality in broad daylight and in our full view.

How can the Finance Minister say in one breath the budget cannot balance and, therefore, he needs to realign and chop votes and in another find K3.4 billion to reward only 86 DPP, PP and UDF MPs with K40 million each for development, leaving out the other 107 parliamentarians?

He even goes about lying that these 86 MPs asked for the funds and that those opposition MPs that were left out will likely be considered in the next budget.

It is very simple really. If DPP believes that Malawians will retain it in power next year because of tribalism and regionalism and would want to retrench them by rejecting any attempt to demolish the two evils through 50 plus 1 percent of electing presidents, then let it be.

If the party feels those MPs that helped it perpetuate the two evils by rejecting the reforms bills in Parliament need to be rewarded, then, again, it is its choice.

What is not a choice for the administration is to use my tax to reward such evil shenanigans. I am sure the DPP has enough overzealous supporters who can easily underwrite such underhand deals and they should have gone to them for financial assistance.

It is downright wrong and criminal and the nation has this publication to thank for stopping it.

And talking of stopping it— it is not true, or is it? We have the opposition MPs, led by MCP in Parliament to thank.

There is a story that is making rounds about sending a thief to catch another that aptly describes the aftermath of this sad episode.

Opposition MPs not on the list were up in arms on Monday, querying Gondwe to explain this injustice.

The MPs even refused to discuss anything, including passing of votes in the House unless the matter was dispersed with.

Meetings of the Business Committee were hastily arranged and an agreement was reached that the money be given to all MPs to the tune of K20 million each.

And, surprisingly, the opposition swallowed this hook, line and sinker.

As soon as it was made known that all 193 MPs would share the loot, the opposition

MPs and government made up and lived happily thereafter.

This is unbelievable and that is why it is being compared to a thief being caught red handed only to share the loot with his pursuers and case closed.

It is what it has come down to and we, as citizens, should really get worried about it.

What it means is that our leaders see wrong things only when they are not beneficiaries.

Gondwe has committed a crime that warrants prosecution and here is the opposition laundering it.

This is smiling at criminality.

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