Cashgate—on the surface- seems to be a simple question of arresting and trying to prosecute some 80 civil servants, business people and political figures who have been fingered in this historic plot to steal from state coffers.
But it seems to me it’s a tough assignment that Malawi-which lacks expertise in many areas — may not solve on its own, otherwise the suspects, will walk free and the truth will never be known of what really happened.
Remember it took the Brits to bring us auditors who unearthed that some 13 billion was stolen within six months last year. Cashgate, some people will tell, started in 2005—so in effect we had nine years in which thieves stole our hard earned money which could have developed this country.
I am not naming names—just as the Brits auditors did not name names in their report. Malawians watchers were emotional about the Brits not naming names—it was too close to an election and if names were named, there could have been an outcry for some people not to seek public office.
Hear the finance minister say it the other day; Cashgate has never happened anywhere in the world, only in Malawi. Our donors have been mad with Capital Hill, they still hold lots of aid until we play ball and clean up the mess. The donors are not convinced with the way we are dealing with how to look after our own money, they still think a lot of thieving is still happening in the public sector.
We have a new president who is promising to get to the bottom of the matter—the truth of what really happened for the country to lose its moral compass.
But come to think how the legal process of bringing Cashgaters to book has been going on, I remain unconvinced that anything will come out of it. I have no confidence in the ACB and the Police who are the chief agents to prosecute the Cashgaters.
Do the two institutions have the expertise to prosecute a complex issue like Cashgate? Are they properly trained in auditing? Do they understand the operations of IFMIS—that system that led to Cashgate because its systems were found to have loopholes? Is the National Audit Office really that professional that we had to bring in foreign experts to do a forensic audit which discovered that K13 billion was stolen within six months?
Without the Brits, was the National Audit Office going to find this figure within a short time? How credible are their audits of government? Why does it take years to finish audits? Why is nobody ever prosecuted and yet millions of kwachas are lost every year and the culprits known?
So it seems we have bigger problems than what we see on the surface. The new president must tread carefully on how he wants to deal with this issue—which can make or break him if he is not careful.
Cashgate will remain a politically sensitive issue until all suspects are effectively prosecuted and Malawians convinced justice has been done.
That needs to be done with speed, accuracy, without fear or favour—and indeed God help Malawi.
My free advice to APM: Whatever it takes, bring in foreign prosecutors to deal with Cashgate, otherwise relying on the Malawi Police with no expertise in prosecuting such complex cases, and the ill-funded ACB, which also has no much expertise, could be a waste of time and resources and you know what Malawians do—they look stupid, hold their patience as a vulture does and go for the kill during elections and smile later on.
APM, if you want to be smart with Cashgate and continue in 2019, you better pray for the successful end of Cashgate by seeking God’s intervention. Of course, don’t waste your time and money to go to the celebrity Nigerian pastor as did your brother and Amayi.
If you have a cabinet that is smart, then pick its brains on Cashgate. If you fail, you have failed Malawians because these donors are very resolute with their stance: they won’t simply give us the funds directly—and who suffers?
I am happy you are quite a different president who does not like TV publicity and daily travels to distribute cows and hand over keys for village houses. I really don’t miss you on TV. If you want to appear on TV, you better bring us good news or something that will change our lives, not the usual public relations stuff.
We hear you are busy trying to sort out the mess left by Amayi. Wish you the best, but a final reminder won’t be a bad idea: bring in the foreign experts to help secure convictions against Cashgaters.
God Bless Malawi!