Now that the wheels have finally started spinning in as far as payback to all those that dipped their fingers into Covid-19 money is concerned, it is my hope that all the doubting Thomases can now clearly see that President Lazarus Chakwera is a man on a mission to redeem this country from the jaws of the wretched whose only interest in the Affairs of the country is to plunder the coffers after the taxpayer (the usual beast of burden) has done the noble duty of filling the kitty with hard-earned Kwacha.
It was clear from the word go that the Malawi leader meant business when he sanctioned the National Audit Office to do an audit of the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds but, somehow, there were those who were impatient and thought that our man of the cloth (turned President) lacked spine to do the needful; well, surprise surprise! Chakwera has come out forcefully after the release of the report by, among other things, ordering the Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi to interdict (without pay, I believe) any government officer implicated in the scandal. It does not end there; he also wants the culprits to pay back the money they took and be prosecuted for their selfish acts.
I love the idea of having a special court set-up that can handle all matters to do with Covid-19 funds embezzlement; that is the only sure way we can have answers at lightning speed and justice would be served in real time and not like it has been with Cashgate-related cases. I know there are some mortals who took issues with the President (or was it the pastor in him?) muttering words to the effect that God should punish all those behind the evil deed of looting Covid-19 money. Well, I for one, I am 100 percent behind him; we, as a country and a people, have suffered enough over the years at the hands of crooked people (be it politicians or public servants) disguised as angels when yet all along they were wolves in sheep skin. It is time for payback and there will be no two ways about it.
It is a pity that clearing the rubble or indeed draining the swamp seem to be moving at a slower pace than most imagined but there is no reason to despair because it is when one is meticulous that the desired results are attained, hence a little bit of patience would not hurt at all. For example, if those who have conducted this Covid-19 funds audit were to be in a hurry, then we probably would have ended up in that Barker Tilley scenario where an initial report on Cashgate by the company was released without names (if memory serves me right).
If you, at any point in time, had gotten entangled into the Covid-19gate mess you better be afraid…very afraid because there is nowhere to run or to hide. The President has made it crystal clear that his intention is to ensure that all Covid-19-related funds, whether under the current regime or the previous one, are well accounted for. Let us just hope that the administration will keep this momentum to ensure that the Covid-19 funds scandal is truly addressed until the last person implicated is held answerable. There should not be any sacred cows when addressing the mess.
What a time for the incoming Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Martha Chizuma to join the fray; we all know she is quite familiar with the terrain, having already done some spade work in unearthing some embezzlement scandals in the public service during her time as the country’s Ombudsman. Just like many out there, I also believe the exercise by the Parliamentary Appointments Committee of vetting our beloved Martha will only be academic. Here is a person who aims for nothing less than a kill whenever she goes hunting for those on the wrong side of the law.
With the commitment displayed by the President to eradicate corruption in this Covid-19 era and the coming of the new ACB Director General, there certainly will be no room for perpetual con artists and dishonest public servants. Ladies and gentlemen, beware…we have a new sheriff in town!
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).