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The missing sense of accountability

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I should start with commending the Local Development Fund (LDF) for developing guidelines and mechanisms to seal the loopholes that have led to the abuse of resources in the implementation of development projects, especially in the Public Works Programmes (PWPs).

This development was triggered by reports of massive abuse of resources, principles and procedures in the development projects through our councils. What is worrisome is this has been a trend for a very long time; as the country continues to languish in underdevelopment, the people entrusted to develop our cities and districts would rather serve their own interests than those of the country.

In 2014, it was also reported that about K350 million had not been accounted for in the city, town and district councils for four months after the end of Malawi Social Action Fund III (Masaf III) ended. The funds had been disbursed by LDF through the Masaf III project funded by the World Bank for the implementation of activities covering PWPs, capacity building activities, supervision of solar installations and completion of sub-projects.

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Every day our media carries news of the mini Cashgates happening in different sectors in the country. At the end of the day, it is taxpayers ’money that covers for the funds that go unaccounted for and consequently the country continues to suffer and lack basic social and development needs.

Ever since the LDF became an important player on the country’s development platform, it has been tainted by abuse of resources and mismanagement of project works. The people engaging in this are Malawians who are well aware of how desperately the country needs development works but they shamelessly sabotage the works for short-term personal gain. The mechanisms and guidelines that are coming into play now by the LDF were supposed to have been implemented from the onset of the projects. At this point, too much has been lost that will never be recovered.

News of abuse of resources in the country has become such a norm that people have come to accept that this is what encompasses life in Malawi. But we are not supposed to accept and embrace such dangerous complacency and mediocrity. The abuse of resources and flouting of procedures and protocols is happening everywhere in the country.

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This is why it is important to note where the politicians and leaders we point fingers at come from. The pool our leaders come from is the same pool the rest of us are in and abuse of resources has become the prevailing culture in the country.

We can spend our days and nights pointing at President Peter Mutharika, Joyce Banda, Bingu Wa Mutharika and Bakili Muluzi when we really need to be checking those we share beds with every night, those we share a roof with every day and those we share a table with every day. That is where corruption and abuse of resources is inherently rooted.

Look, we do not need to mince words, we have no sense of accountability in the country and the mistake is always thinking we need to be answerable to someone else to be accountable when in essence we all need to be accountable to ourselves. We do not need to be policed when we squander money that we know is meant for a development project. Where is our sense of accountability when we use funds for projects to build fancy houses in fancy residential areas while development works come to a standstill?

I have argued many a time that we are technically not poor as a country but we end up so because we lack the will to move forward, to develop, to be innovative and to be accountable for our own country.

You cannot help but appreciate how the Chinese and the Indians come together to work on projects and businesses. Impressive. And we waste our times bitter at the Burundians for taking over the shops but whose fault is it? Go around you will find a Malawian shop owner opening shop at 8am and closing at 5pm with a lunch break while a Burundian keeps a shop open from 6am straight to 9pm. It is called hard work and that is why they are more successful at business.

This prevailing mediocre culture is what we are passing on to our children; we are religiously raising a generation on lazy thieves who have no respect for national development and personal accountability. Without this sense of accountability, the country is going to the dogs, rabid at that.

I rest my case.

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