The Tonse travesty
The Tonse Administration—a phrase used for political expediency—is Malawi’s biggest modern damp squib.
President Lazarus Chakwera and his officers have reneged on every crucial promise they made ahead of the court-ordered 2020 presidential election, which they approached with so much pomp and vitality that voters could never doubt their talents.
Today, we are back to days we never imagined would return.
Corruption is endemic and every plan in the book has been explored to frustrate the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) so that corruption syndicates, which Chakwera charged would not have freedom in Malawi, can pillage whatever they can land their evil hands and eyes on.
Have you noticed a discreet withdrawal of the present government pushing that the corrupt should face the law regardless of who or what they are?
The challenge is that those governing this country now never imagined ACB would go after them once they are fingered in corruption.
They had in mind the bureau of yesteryears which was being used to hound political nemeses, often those in the opposition, until it dawned on them that those days were long gone.
So, at first, Chakwera pretended he was out there to take down everyone involved in corruption. He even repeatedly said or told stories that he was happy that ACB was being headed by Martha Chizuma whom he described as a very good and determined partner in fighting corruption.
The rest is history and, like I have highlighted on his page before, the battle is lost—in fact it was lost the moment our present rulers realised they could not fend off the temptation to steal from public coffers.
In all this, the biggest prey is the taxpayer, that elderly woman in Chididi, Nsanje, or a hardworking man in Misuku, Chitipa, who funds the flamboyant lifestyles of public officers who do not even have hearts to stop there but steal more.
You and I are being deducted huge amounts of money in Pay as You Earn, which eventually gets stolen by those we chose to lead the nation’s public affairs.
There has always been the talk that the Tonse Administration has been unlucky throughout as it came to power in the midst of a raging Covid pandemic before floods, cholera and floods again hit Malawi.
But does fighting corruption become impossible in moments of disaster? After all, we have had significant support from our partners during these moments of need, even when our officers were busy embezzling funds means for humanitarian response.
Did paying some butcher’s shop for fertiliser in the United Kingdom have anything to do with the disasters that Malawi has been experiencing?
By the way, how far has Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda gone with recovering those dollars which were shifted out of the country in a seriously irregular way at a time we needed the foreign currency most?
Many things have gone wrong in this country since this deception called the Tonse Alliance came to power.
Just look at how electricity has been managed since early last year after Tropical Storm Ana destroyed Kapichira Hydropower Station.
It was as though we had no leader who could leave everything and concentrate on ensuring we got power back even just two months later. It has happened before elsewhere, where voters elected leaders who know why they are on those lofty positions.
Just look at how the 2022-23 Affordable Inputs Programme has been managed and you will conclude that we do not deserve to be called a nation. We are just like some farm where rules do not matter.
The challenge from the mess that has so far been this government is that it may trigger voter apathy at the next elections.
When voters become disillusioned after their elected leaders fail to deliver to their expectations, they sometimes cease finding a reason to vote again. We are likely to have that scenario in 2025 if the present government maintains the present path of chaos.
Now, there is a high likelihood of Tropical Cyclone Freddy being once again used as a reason for Malawi’s sluggish economic growth.
It is as though all the money that is stolen from the budget—estimated at about 30 percent—will go to the cyclone’s response.
The truth is that for Malawi to progress, its people must elect leaders who are determined to root out corruption in earnest.
Unfortunately, we have not done that since 1994. It is even difficult to imagine when we will do that when we have been disenchanted by the current administration, on which we had placed so much confidence.
So, what will Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima’s fresh campaign message be if they will contest in the 2025 presidential election? Because they already promised everything a contestant for presidency would ever line up.
Alick Ponje is a features writer at The Times Group. He graduated from the University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in literature in English. Follow him on Twitter @aponje