I am referring to the Thursday Talk-shop organized by Malawi opposition parties.
To bring you up to speed, leaders and representatives of Malawi’s seven active opposition parties, namely the:
- Malawi Congress Party (MCP),
- People’s Party (PP)),
- New Labour Party (NLP),
- United Transformation Party(UTP),
- Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM),
- National Rainbow Coalition(NRC) and
- Malawi Forum for Unity and Development(MAFUNDE),
held a joint presser where in a 17-point statement, they petitioned the Executive (not government as is often wrongly said) on issues they believe positive action is long overdue on.
Action is required, they said, to enable the country successfully implement public sector reforms and attain accountability and transparency.
In the petition titled “Prospectors for Public Sector Reforms”, the opposition accused the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration of tolerating and condoning criminality, impunity and poor accountability in national institutions.
They said the Executive’s deficiency in accountability has been sending signals that some people, especially those in DPP, are above the law.
They did not stop there.
They went on to demand action and with the leader of the biggest opposition party – in as far as parliamentary numbers are concerned, saying:
We as Malawians expect the former professor of law [President Peter Mutharika] to be tough against any form of criminality and to respect the Constitution he swore to defend.
Some issues which the seven feel have been swept under the carpet are:
- the fire at the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) warehouse in Lilongwe on the eve of the day the court set for a recount of votes in Lilongwe City South East constituency,
- the violence at a joint opposition rally in Mzuzu,
- National Aids Commission (NAC) funds abuse case,
- senior DPP officials supplying goods worth K4.9 billion to the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) for which they were paid upfront although Escom did not require the said goods,
- the shortage and pilferage of drugs in public hospitals,
- a thorough and fast probe of the former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda,
- the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) donation to DPP and
- the sale of the former wholly State-owned Malawi Savings Bank to FDH Financial Holdings Limited.
Taking his turn, People’s Party (PP) acting president Uladi Mussa said the current administration “lacks thinking capacity to come up with possible solutions to the stated problems” which he said is against the Constitution.
On this one, allow me to digress.
I am not a constitutional expert but I have yet to come across a clause, paragraph or section in our constitution which criminalises “lack of thinking capacity”.
But then again, who am I to judge; Uladi is obviously more conversant with these issues than I am.
The opposition parties said their joint reproach of the Executive does not imply formation of an electoral alliance to oust DPP in the 2019 general elections, no.
I liked this one, so I will digress again.
Fact is, in all those parties as we speak, there is a lot of jostling for the prized running mate position on this road to 2019.
Meetings, rendezvous, plots and counter-plots, and schemes and counter-schemes are on full display – IF you know where to look – with both big-name and nameless politicians engaged in elaborate manoeuvres of courtship targeting those already assured of appearing on the 2019 presidential ballot papers.
The reason suitors are investing in the courtship is to sell themselves and where possible ‘purchase’ running mate positions if potential vacancies and the right amount of greed exists.
Therefore, all the seven had to reassure the various suitors and wooers out there that:
Verily I say unto you, worry not, thus says I, for your position is safe. I am not picking a running mate from this useless lot.
The above, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the drama that recently unfolded and continues to pan out in impoverished and yet to get poorer Malawi.
Wise One Analysis:
Now let’s move on to the substance of this reflection. The key to all the issues belatedly identified by the Seven Wise Leaders cum Representatives is quite simple.
Whether a joint presser by Seven Wise ‘Men’ or a unilateral blog post like this one is the most ideal rialto for unravelling the magic wand to lead Malawians out of the Babylon is pointless, hence I will not belabour suitability of the medium.
BUT If you go back to the manifestos that all these parties prepared as their pledges in the event that they won the 2014 election, you will find that they ALL vowed to unshackle the politically encumbered oversight bodies.
I am talking about:
- unshackling the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) by among other things amending the law so that the Director General of this institution does not operate in fear of the president and ruling party regional governors when chasing the corrupt;
- liberating the Auditor General and the National Audit Office (NAO) so that when they find a stink at a government ministry or department, they can do what it takes to fix the mess forever; and
- giving that assets guy and department – never mind the name of the person or the department – the wherewithal with which to scrutinize the declared assets, verify them and then solve the riddle with which our initially impoverished politicians turn into later-day ‘Mwithas’ who only when in power are able to multiply the little or nothing they had and begin making donations all over town and displacing villagers to build mansions.
I will dare say that:
- IF the ACB was not impeded by having to bootlick whosoever was president and hence able to conduct investigations without political interference, 70% of the scams that have taken place and are still taking place would not have occurred at all. And in the 30% or so where the criminals masquerading as leaders adamantly executed, the masterminds would by now be safely locked up in Zomba, Chichiri or Maula Prisons, where they belong.
- IF the Auditor General was free to carry out his duties professionally and independently, the criminals that masquerade as civil servants at Capital Hill and in the District Assemblies would now be serving very lengthy sentences with hard labour for double-claiming allowances, and all the manner of thievery they subject our hard paid taxes to.
- IF that Assets chap was free and adequately resourced to carry out his duties professionally and independently, reconciling assets declared to the wealth of the politicians and board members as of today, believe you me, most of the so called honourables, half of the DPP politburo and many others would now be answering a whole range of charges in our courts.
Who can change this? What can we do about this, you ask.
The answer to the first question is: We, i.e. you and I, can and must change this.
Before I respond to the second question, let me revisit the Seven Wise ‘Men’s presser. When I heard rumours about this presser, I had high expectations that our opposition leaders will now galvanize us into civil disobedience (which is legal and within our rights) to force the Executive to implement the promises made by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vis-à-vis the independence of the oversight bodies so that that they are freed from political and executive interference.
The fact that they do not seem to think along these lines, as far as I am concerned, means that just like the ruling DPP, they have no clue on the causative agents of the criminality, impunity and poor accountability that the Seven Wise ‘Men’ from the East are happy to lament about; and having failed to diagnose the underlying problems, they cannot claim to know how to fix the mess; leading to the obvious conclusion that All they achieved – with this 17 point petition – is synonymous with a flock of sheep presenting a petition to hungry and rabid foxes saying:
We have all signed this petition asking you to STOP eating us or our offspring.
If you ask me, that presser and its 17 points are this ridiculous!
If I am wrong and they are well aware of the causative agents and how to fix the mess, then we are worse off because it means that they have zero – zilch – nix desire to fix Malawi for the better at all.
Why, if I may ask, did it take them this long to realise that impunity and the criminality are only getting worse? How long has it been since Justice Mbendera died that we should be talking about an inquest today?
Would I be wrong to conclude that such ‘bytes’ are only meant to divert our attention from their own ‘grand slams’?
I leave this for you to reflect on.
As for my reflection, I am done. I have little, very little respect for both the DPP – which shamelessly reneged on its promises, and this lot – who are like dogs barking up a wrong tree because they are just birds of a feather, just waiting for their turn to gormandize our hard-paid taxes without mercy, if given half a chance.
Feeling duped? We have all reasons to be. And I can assure you that we are not the first to be duped and neither will we be the last.
Remember Aesop’s tale of the Scorpion and the Frog? It goes like this:
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks,
“How do I know you won’t sting me?”
The scorpion says,
“Because if I do, I will die too.”
The frog is satisfied, and they set out. In midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp:
Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”
The scorpion’s behaviour explains our thieving politicians. Have a blessed Easter.
I rest my case.