Written by THECHIEF MOURNER
The face of Gogo Sinsamala was partially hidden behind the old dilapidated door as he surreptitiously beckoned to the Chief Mourner to join him in the Bawo Club private meeting room known fondly as “kanyumba komata”.
As Abiti Mwenye demolished yet another aspiring challenger with a surprisingly devastating 2-Way mtaji that no one had noticed, the discussion all around was about the recent honorary doctorate that Amayi had received from a certain little known university in Korea. It was almost a unanimous sentiment among Bawo players and spectators alike that Amai did not deserve a doctorate, given the tragic state that she guided Malawi to in her short time as leader. Every one wanted to chip in. Even Abiti Mwenye herself wondered why, given her expertise and undisputed bawo skills, neither the Bawo College, nor Professor Mpandadzina’s prestigious University of Mpatse Abwile had honoured her with any certificates at all. She too, she admitted, would not have minded being called Dr. Abiti Mwenye!
Even the Chief Mourner had weighed in on the majority view, going on a solo discourse on how honorary doctorates were a stupid idea and how Amai had simply demonstrated her cluelessness by accepting one from a university that simply was trying to use and exploit her newfound fame to raise its own profile.
In the private cubicle, however, Gogo Sinsamala sat the Mourner down and voiced his dissent against the majority opinion. In his discourse, Old Gogo Sinsamala proved once again his exceptional perceptive and analytical skills.
“You see, Chief Mourner”, began GogoSinsamala in a suspiciously conspiratorial tone. “I dare not discuss these th
ings with you in the presence of every Jim and Jack out there in the bawo theatre. These are serious matters and they are better off coming from you since as Chief Mourner, you are the one with the official mandate to educate and inform on why we continue to mourn here at the club.
“First of all, Amai entirely deserves that doctorate!” declared Gogo Sinsamala. The Chief Mourner was puzzled, and Gogo Sinsamala, noting this puzzlement, went on. “Those that have been ridiculing Amai are looking at her degree as if it were for conventional economics. That is the mistake. First we must ask ourselves. What is a degree? It is a certificate. It certifies the knowledge one has or that one has demonstrated, or the capabilities one has demonstrated through one’s actions in an area specific to the award one is receiving. In the case of Amai, she has excelled in demonstrating an acute shortage of knowledge in handling the demands of the office of president.
Amai has proven beyond reasonable doubt to have a brain so minute that it is deserving of some sort of award. She has succeeded in demonstrating that she is quite economical with her capabilities. This success is classic economics of aptitude. In other words, Chief Mourner, the award of Doctor of Economics is very appropriate. It is no mean fit to oversee such immense devaluation, inflation while playing puppet to the IMF, and bankrupting one’s nation to the point that all basic necessities that the state is supposed to provide its citizens become non-existent. A leader who excels above all others in this regard, and manages to do so in a short 8 months, demonstrates capabilities of cluelessness that are deserving of a doctorate in Economics!”
The smile on the Chief Mourner’s face was indicative of a sudden recognition of the sense in Gogo Sinsamala’s analysis. But Gogo Sinsamala mistook it as indicating that the Chief Mourner was beginning to relax in what he considered a serious meeting and admonished, “There is a more serious matter than that, however”.
The Chief Mourne’s smile was quickly replaced with another puzzled look. “I was not happy with the way you approached the Damaging Dossier which we sent to you the other day’, Gogo Sinsamala stated flatly. For example, “Who cares if Rapid Team and other laundries are turning Laughter Kambala’s suits away? I only told you that information as a side note and you made a great deal out of it. That information was not even in the dossier! You are slacking in your responsibilities, Chief Mourner. It is true that you, as Chief Moruner have no deputy given your exceptional skills, but you must not become complacent! You obsessed yourself with only the summaries made in the few pages of the Dossier, when you were supposed to read they whole volume and inform the Nation on the most urgent matters. In that dossier is the explanation why there is shortage of drugs in the country, and the revelations that it is all because of greed, corruption and sheer stupidity at the very top.
“You see, Chief Mourner, Laughter Kambala and Khambi Kathyali first cheated amayi that the way to raise funds for the PP party was to use Kambala’s self suing scam. Amai was convinced this would work and that is why she was doing grassroots works, traveling up and down the country distributing maize. But Kambala, as we here at the Bawo club had already guessed would happen, refused to share the proceeds of his scams, and thus fell out with both Kathyali and Amai of course. This led to Kambala’s powers being curbed somewhat.
“Now, I hope you read the part that discusses Kathyali’s serious interests in drug procurements and the cause of the current chaos?” Asked Gogo Sinsamala. There was a blank look on the Chief Mourner’s face. Gogo Sinsamala took a first sip of the sour brew that had been standing there untouched.
“Following the predictable fiasco of Kambala refusing to remit the proceeds of his scams to Amai, and Kathyali getting increasingly protective of the scams he was working in the ministry of health, Amayi had to re-strategise. She decided to take over the medical procurement and thus moved Kathyali away from the health ministry. It had been in view of the drug budget that Kathyali specially requested to be minister of health. (It is very easy to steal from it through procurement of expired drugs! Sing’angas have been doing this for a long time through selling expired roots!)
“Kathyali envied so much the money that Mulli was making from the drugs business (which was part of the reason
Kathyali was shifted by Bingu away from health to transport before his eventual firing).
“The drugs budget is a very political issue, Chief Mourner; even more so than maize. When Amayi eventually opened her eyes to this game she did not hesitate to make maneuvers that put her directly in-charge of drug procurement. This is the reason she cancelled all the previous drug procurement contracts- the ones that had been made by Kathyali.
“How does it work?” Asked the Chief Mourner.
“It is all in the Damaging Dossier. You need to read all the memos and briefs in that Dossier, Chief Mourner”, observed Gogo Sinsamala. “In a nutshell, is works this way: pharmaceutical companies always run the risk of having the bulk of their medicines expire before a potential buyer is found. Now when they expire, they will have to be disposed.
"These companies are so powerful globally, so they get into contacts with powerful guys in governments, guys who can control decisions. So say a drug has six months shelf life, and to move from their production sites to a country like Malawi, the lead times would be about three months in total. Obviously, even with a sound distribution network, they still run the risk of the drugs expiring before use. Hence the pharmaceutical companies take a very big price cut of about 75%. Since the drug purchases were budgeted at 100%, the 75% is the political money shared by the politicians and the key guys at the companies.
“If a president is out of the loop then that is easy money for the minister. That is why Khambi Kathyali’s account rose at the speed of light from a few millions to round MK3bn in just less than 3 months and the country has a big shortage of drugs.
"But gogo, surely, this is immoral?" The Chief Mourner asked.
Gogo Sinsamala ignored the question, and gave the Chief Mourner a look that suggested the question was rather stupid. He continued.
“Also, when there is a donation of drugs, the ministry can easily ask the local suppliers to raise invoices to the amount of the donated drugs. Now because donations are a very common occurrence in the ministry, that again means easy money for the politicians. Amai has since decided to get deep into this scam in order to substantially reduce her trips. Unfortunately, the greed, the corruption and visions of billions of Kwachas in her account so clouded Amai’s vision that the need for urgency was completely overlooked. She was busy counting her soon to be acquired riches that she forgot there were contracts that needed to be arranged before the billions started moving to her account. This stupidity of forgetting that even when you are planning to swindle money in sham contracts, you still need to first have the product procurement in place is what has caused the drug shortage.
“You see, Chief Mourner, all politicians that came from Muluzi’s time are so experienced in this kind corruption and impunity. Just as the case was with Bingu, the plot by the experienced politicians is to get the president deep into the corruption scandals. That way they are assured of protection. If you are working for them, well either you have to be on the inside or you are forced out of the system.”
Gogo Sinsamala paused and looked the Chief Mourner straight in the eye. “How can you class a person who in 8 short months gets to grips with this kind of intricate corruption as undeserving of a doctorate in economics? Whether its sheer stupidity, or simply greed, you need to realize, Chief Mourner that there is excellence here, and that University in South Korea has noticed and recognized it before us! I hold that Amai be recognized as Doctor of Economics, Honoris Causa!”
“I definitely see your point! Said the Chief Mourner. “I must apologize for slipping up. But what of the other Bawo Club Members? I heard that Abiti Mwenye is planning to lead them to hold a vigil at state house until Amayi relinquishes the honorary doctorate and perhaps even the presidency for failing to ensure the presence of drugs in hospitals. How are you going to convince them, knowing how adamant Abiti Mwenye is?”
Gogo Sinsamala gave me a sly look and calmly replied, “don’t forget, Chief Mourner, I started the Bawo Club!”