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This country is cursed

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Agogo, the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) through its Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission (EPJC) has accused government of living in denial about the high prevalence rate of corrupt practices in the country.

EAM said recently in a statement that developments at the recent National Anti- Corruption Conference in Lilongwe were reflective of a mad government that is staring in the abyss and denies the black hole is there.

EAM sentiments are echoed by many a people wishing the country good.

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And truth is, agogo: only a whole-system cleansing by some creative destruction can bring or add value to the seeds of democratic governance sown in 1993 and allow the citizenry to confront their ‘ghosts of impotence’ and regain their rightful place as their own watchdog of their affairs and destiny.

Not some corruptible and unproductive exercise of ballot-box democracy undertaken in every five years.

Recall that in 1994, prior to the general elections, information flew around on bankruptcy and thievery records of some key party leaders.

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Unfortunately, the general battle cry at public rallies and in small conversations was: “Bola wakuba yemweyo [better a thief]!”

Then, a convict was duly installed through the ballot in the name of democracy, thus simultaneously planting a culture of corruption and embezzlement. That political seed quickly sprouted and took root.

Since that fateful day, official corruption, the erosion of the values of professional integrity and the spirit of hard work are widespread in Malawi, a country that 53 years after independence has failed to consider national economic and political matters with the eyes of an adult at 53.

The fact that government held a conference themed on whether or not corruption is a reality in the country signifies that Malawi is infested with businesspeople, civil servants, technocrats, religious leaders, traditional leaders, civil society, academics, media practitioners, scientists, politicians and other species without character.

And this absurdity has the genesis.

Agogo, in 2004, the founding father of kleptocracy in Malawi walked away in retirement with a record of whopping K1.7 billion conveniently stashed just in one bank account in Zomba. Till now, his entire estate and that of cronies, dead or alive, have not been assessed to establish the real value. Since then, it is now a matter of taking turns.

Just like with the founder, serious warnings were all over about the leadership and financial management style of Bingu wa Mutharika.

Specifically, agogo, an official report regarding his dismissal as secretary general of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa on the grounds of arrogance and embezzlement was widely circulated.

But just like in 1994, no serious attention was paid to these warnings. During his nature Bingu perfected the art of embezzlement.

A key innovation was the establishment of an ethnic syndicate that stretched and cut across nearly all strategic government ministries, departments and institutions – just like is case under President Peter Muthraika administration. This act alone made looting easy and safe from the law and watchdog institutions which were conveniently paralysed.

It is on record that at the time of his sudden death in April, 2012, from nowhere, the man had under his armpit a staggering K61 billion in assets and bank accounts.

Soon after Bingu’s death, it was thought that Joyce Banda would be different.

But what was forgotten is that self-exiled Banda belongs to the same political class of the father and founder of kleptocracy in Malawi.

And Cashgate exploded under her watch.

Given this scenario, therefore, it is perhaps naïve for Malawians to expect that things will change under Mutharika’s leadership. The problem with Mutharika is that he lacks creativity and has glued himself to same old scripts of governing while letting the characters take charge at the expense of the director himself.

The truth is the country, agogo, is cursed beyond redemption.

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