On Saturday, 28th July, I woke up to the exciting news. The Nation online published the story that the High Court in Blantyre had ordered Standard Bank Plc to freeze an account for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) through which the party allegedly received K145 million from Pioneer Investments Limited in the Malawi Police Service food rations deal. The account has only one signatory: His excellency the president of the republic of Malawi, professor Arthur Peter Mutharika. The application has been made by Mzuzu-based Youth and Society (YAS) through Ritz Attorneys-at-Law. YAS is headed by the youthful executive director Charles Kajoloweka.
Reacting to the news, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, while stating that the party was not aware of the case, wondered why “other people would want to take duties and responsibilities of other constitutionally instituted bodies to act on their behalf.”
You couldn’t make this stuff up!
Dausi apparently is unaware of the the simple answer to his question, which is that those constitutionally instituted bodies are not doing their work. They are not doing their work because so-called ruling party politicians do not allow them do their work independently. Politicians are always interfering in their work and intimidating them. For fear of losing their jobs and income, numerous corruption cases are thrown under the carpet. No one gets prosecuted if they are connected to the DPP, be it a politician or a corrupt businessman who bribes politicians and police chiefs. This is the reason why corruption is always rising in Malawi. Nobody is afraid of corruption anymore.
The reason why Dausi is asking such an unfortunate question is because he and his fellow politicians in DPP know they can get kickbacks and get away with it. It seems that to the DPP the thinking is that by voting them into office, Malawians gave them the license to loot. The idea of a licence to loot is actually not new to Malawian politics. I even entitled my report on the Joyce Banda Cashgate with the same phrase back in 2013.
Peter Mutharika’s complacency and complicity is a gigantic stamp of approval of this state of affairs.
But the tide is turning….
Malawians have started fighting back. the fight is being led by the energetic youth who are tired of being led by retired octogenarians who lived abroad for 40 years before coming back to convince us that they are the only ones who can rescue us from poverty. My generation is taking matters into its own hands by saying enough is enough!
Charles Kajoloweka is one of the young men who has restored faith in my generation. We the youth can longer sit back as a group of retirees keep mismanaging our meager resources while at the same time claiming they came back from overseas already rich! They steal money while insulting us. We can longer watch and complain. The time to act is now and we are going to win this fight.
Malawi is not as poor as we think. Malawi generates enough revenue to meet most of its developmental needs. The country can be a land of opportunities, of dreams and inspiration, for young and old not only for a selected few. Malawi has brilliant people. You just have to look at performances of Malawians working abroad. From those working in international organizations, universities, research institutions and hospitals to those working as domestic workers as well as other jobs in South Africa and beyond. The stories are sweet to hear. They are stories of hard work and excellent performance. All those people working abroad would love to contribute one way or another to the running of our country but they are frustrated with the way our country is managed by greedy politicians. Even right here at home, there are hardworking and patriotic Malawians in different sectors of the economy who are always demoralized by mediocrity.
Malawians are natural performers. We just need the right conditions.
Among other things a crucial need is the right governance framework that does not allow for political interference, and a leader who can inspire us to participate in politics and development of the country the same way we do in other countries under the right conditions. We need to create a country that gives an opportunity to young artists, community development activists, corporate executives, public servants, entrepreneurs, writers and many other professionals to be the best of the best in their fields. The necessary conditions to achieve this will not come as mana from heaven. We the citizens of Malawi must work hard to get them.
One of the characteristics of good citizenship is to speak up when authorities are taking a country towards the wrong direction. It is important to speak against abuse of power, corruption and mismanagement of our hard-earned resources. However, speaking only is not good enough. Good citizens must rise up by practically intervene within the boundaries of our laws when they see evil. This is the only country we call home and we must not let leaders get away with evils like corruption.
In Malawi, it is common for citizens to speak up when high profile scandals of theft of huge amounts of money are reported. However, when it comes to acting, we fall short. This is why courageous people like YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka need to be encouraged and commended. It is only through active citizenship that we can rescue the country from poverty.
On the political front, a terrain so difficult to maneuver, we have another very promising visionary development. Vice President of Malawi Dr. Saulos Chilima has just launched the United Transformation Movement (UTM) which is promising new politics. For just two weeks, Dr, Chilima and UTM have completely changed the political dynamics of Malawi. With 9 months to general elections, all existing parties have to forget all previous polls or predictions and go back to the drawing board.
Back in 2003, Professor Peter Mutharika (as he then was) said the following:
“Bureau’s activities, or lack thereof, continue to draw attention. Speaking on behalf of the donors, the British High Commission to Malawi, for example, has recently condemned Malawi for its ineffective anticorruption stance. The Bureau has responded by claiming that the anticorruption laws are vague and prevent successful prosecutions. Out of the three thousand cases pending, the Bureau has lost in the courts almost all of the twenty cases it has completed. Transparency International, an anticorruption organization, has also criticized the Anti-Corruption Bureau for its failure to publicly report findings – a step which it views as crucial in preventing future corruption. Another source of weakness for the Bureau is its lack of political autonomy; the Bureau does not have independent prosecutorial powers, and the President has the power to dismiss the Bureau Director at any time. Recently, there have been allegations of massive corruption at the highest levels of the government and several cabinet ministers have been dismissed. Corruption has therefore become a political rather than a law enforcement problem. In such a context, it is questionable whether the Anti-Corruption Bureau can succeed in its mission.” [A. Peter Mutharika, (2003) “Accountability for Political Abuses in Pre-Democratic Malawi: The Primacy of Truth,” Third World Legal Studies: Vol. 16, Article 11.]
If a person who wrote this can now be complicit in a MK145 million kickback scandal, and be so complacent when his advisors and officials are looting government coffers like a personal estate, I do not think we need any additional evidence to prove that the good professor has been totally unmade and is no longer fit to participate in Malawi’s politics.
Allan Ntata’s Column can be read every Sunday on the Maravi Post