Kondowe: ACB Chief
Kondowe: ACB Chief

Legend says when the Greek gods picked someone to fall, they first made them mad, proud or deaf.

To this end, Nemesis – a Greek god – maintained a list of the arrogant and their hypocrisy, and meted out justice untempered by mercy to those ranking high on her list.

Reading this, you are wondering what place Greek mythology has in 21st century Malawi.

Bear with me Blues’ Orators.

On my mind are two Malawians competing for the number one slot on Nemesis’ list.

Blues’ Orators, I am talking about none other than the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) Czar and, by implication, the appointing authority.

Both gentlemen, as you know, are heftily paid by our taxes. Yet they are – by omission or commission – subjecting us to undue misery and hopelessness.

First things first: It is a fact that President Peter Mutharika has gone the length and breadth of the world to reignite donor interest in Malawi.

He has, for obvious reasons, failed.

Knowing our vulnerability, he is now wooing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

To do this, he is spending our taxes, the only funds at his disposal, globetrotting and organising Investment Forums amid the daily load-shedding, water-rationing and taxing even the few water drops we get when taps flow.

While chasing FDI is good and long overdue, it will bear no fruit and here is why.

In addition to reliable electricity and running water taps, principled and ethical foreign investors – the type we need – hate corruption.

Corruption and scrupulous investors are like parallel lines. They never meet.

Sadly, under the current leadership of the ACB, corruption is not only thriving but is being enabled and the corrupt shielded as if Mr Lucas Kondowe’s livelihood depended on it.

Allow me Blues’ Orators to recap recent reports vis-à-vis the misadventures of Mutharika’s inept appointee this far.

Gathering dust are the 13 case files from the K577 billion-now-K236 billion Cashgate forensic audit report.

Days have turned into weeks, weeks into months, we are yet to hear of an arrest or recovery – even partial – of the $19.6 million (approximately K14 billion) squandered in duplicated and/or dubious overpayments.

Then there is the Richard Makondi and businessperson Mohammad Kassam saga.

Blues’ Orators, what actually transpired is as follows. After following due process, ACB secured a warrant of arrest from court. Armed with the warrant, ACB officers went to effect the arrest.

Upon being told he was to be arrested, Makondi requested to call his lawyer first.

ACB officers are civilised chaps, and they let him make the call and Jeez, had they known!

Makondi dialled a number, spoke for a few minutes, then handed the phone to the arresting officers.

Now imagine that you are an ACB officer, and at the end of the line, is not a “lawyer” but your own irate boss, Kondowe; lambasting you for attempting to arrest Makondi, a high-ranking Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) official!

How would you feel? What would you think?

As expected, spokes were thrown into the solid case and to date, Makondi and his accomplice are free, to loot again.

If you think this is disgusting, you ain’t heard nothing yet.

Then there is the Bakili Muluzi’s K1.7 billion fraud case, in which Kondowe, instead of prosecuting as expected, chose to punch holes in the people’s case.

How a case instigated by professionals led by then former ACB Czar and ex-police prosecutor Counsel Gustave Kaliwo, authorised for prosecution by a competent Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), delayed but not trashed by two more learned counsels one of whom happened to be a judge got trivialised by an accountant – our Lucas Kondowe – defies all logic.

No wonder, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) was not amused.

And when we thought the Blues’ Talking Community had pumped sense into the ACB, Kondowe has proved to be hard of hearing.

Just recently, he pulled another absurdity.

Monday headlines have revealed that while away on holiday in the USA, he continues to aid and abate corruption as evidenced by his current effort which has botched the ACB’s investigation of a K4.9 billion payment standoff between Escom and its suppliers.

The probe followed a complaint of political interference in awarding of contracts and payment to suppliers in excess of K4 billion.

Apparently, goods were supplied without proper documentation and in total disregard of procedures, a development that saw Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) director of finance Betty Mahuka resigning.

The investigation was duly authorised by Counsel Reyneck Matemba, Kondowe’s deputy as mandated by Section 8 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) which reads: “If the office of the director is vacant or the director is absent from duty or unable for any other reason to perform the functions of his office, the deputy director shall act as director.”

Furthermore, Counsel Matemba proceeded with the blessings of his jet-set boss who was then US-bound; only for the same boss to turn around and side with Escom management in frustrating the ACB probe.

Blues’ Orators, can you see the mess we are in?

Look at this: with corruption dodging us with respect to aid, trade, FDI and eroding Escom’s working capital to the extent that ‘towards power all day every day’ is now ‘towards darkness all day and all night’, how does one even begin to explain Kondowe’s behaviour?

Greed? Incompetence? Or blind loyalty of late Gwanda Chakuamba’s proportions? Whichever, let us move on.

The facts are that while three highly respected lawyers saw merit in the Muluzi case, Kondowe, an accountant – wanted to make the case disappear and failed.

Having seen that when the long arm of the law is stretched, throwing spanners in the works is problematic, he has now resorted to ensuring that the professionals at the ACB are denied space to arrest, let alone investigate corruption when DPP operatives like Makondi and the ones behind the Escom mess are exposed.

Without a care about his presumed professionalism and what we thought was a good CV, he is now so blinded that he cares even less that we need a corruption-free Malawi to get results from development partnerships; that with rampant corruption, even a thousand investment forums will not bring a cent in FDI and more tellingly that as long as Escom continues serving as a looting conduit via questionable deals, there can be no light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who cannot afford generators and that in this day and age no country can develop on chikoloboyi.

Blues’ Orators, what the matter is with Kondowe you and I cannot say but what we know is: whom the gods would destroy, they first make them deaf.

You know what?

Had we been living in Ancient Greece, this arrogance, incompetence, hypocrisy and obstinacy in both Kondowe and Mutharika, the appointing and redeploying authority, was enough to see them high up on Nemesis’ list, where even angels feared to feature.

What you Blues’ Orators should take home, never mind Kondowe’s obstinacy, is that while a good CV takes a lifetime to build, messing it up only needs greed and a few seconds.