The Maravi Post Editors Take on Malawi Mess

“The Ministry of Finance has the mandate to formulate economic and fiscal policy and manage financial and material resources of the Government of Malawi in order to realise balanced and sustainable economic growth and to reduce poverty.

Our vision is to be the leading Ministry, effective and efficient in overseeing and applying general economic and fiscal management, and to be transparent and accountable in our use of public resources.

Our Mission is to formulate sound economic and fiscal policies and to mobilize and prudently manage financial and material resources in line with agreed policies and priorities in order to contribute to the development of our country.

 Our values are:

  • Transparency and accountability
  • Professionalism
  • Impartiality
  • Teamwork and responsiveness
  • And Personal integrity”

Copied and pasted from the website of the Ministry of Finance.

Unless all this is intended to dupe Malawian tax-payers and development partners, Dr Ken Lipenga and the entire senior leadership of the ministry, belong elsewhere, and not in the corridors of the treasury.

If President Joyce Banda was at all serious about developing Malawi, the first thing she ought to have done was to dismiss the whole lot before she flew off to wherever she is.

Where is this coming from?

Newspapers are awash with reports not about stealing or looting as you know it, but systematic pillage that has been happening at this ministry mandated to “formulate economic and fiscal policy and manage financial and material resources of the Government of Malawi in order to realise balanced and sustainable economic growth and to reduce poverty.”

If President Joyce Banda can name one, just one country where plundering ever “realised balanced and sustainable economic growth”; then by all means she should retain Dr Ken Lipenga and the entire hierarchy in the ministry.

If the poverty that this ministry is supposed to reduce is restricted to that of its minister, senior and junior staffers; then there can be no two ways about it; Dr Ken Lipenga and his team are doing a very good job, and the nation owes them gratitude.

Looking at the vision of the ministry, one gets sick! “Our vision is to be the leading Ministry, effective and efficient in overseeing and applying general economic and fiscal management, and to be transparent and accountable in our use of public resources.”

Very impressive for a visitor, but as we speak, no one in Malawi – Malawian or non-Malawian – can buy this bunkum. This “vision”, in the light of recent scandals and revelations, is more than big joke.

I dare add that this is a big insult to the poor, being denied vital services not because money is not available, but because the sadists staffing this wicked ministry are mis-appropriating funds intended for the poor.

The ministry’s claim to subscribe to: Transparency and accountability, Professionalism, Impartiality, Teamwork and responsiveness, and Personal integrity” is an affront to these noble words.

Under no circumstances can a person of “integrity” exploit the weak controls that have facilitated the massive fraud to stash millions away in Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 160th out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index and which according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report for 2009, about 74 per cent of the population still lives below the income poverty line of US$1.25 a day and 90 per cent below the US$2 a day threshold.

Teamwork and responsiveness?

I will grant the staffers at the ministry this one. To plunder at the rate and scale they have been doing, needed great team work (technically called “Collusion”) and a good deal of responsiveness to individual poverty.

So, yes; I grant them team work and responsiveness.

Impartiality? My foot!  Transparency and accountability? This is so inappropriate and so ridiculous that if it were not for the suffering poor masses currently being blindfolded with blankets, cattle, goats etc.; I would have laughed myself to death.

Now coming back to the essence of this write-up, the non-negotiability of Dr Ken Lipenga’s resignation or in the event that he refuses to resign voluntarily, his unconditional dismissal as Minister of Finance; is long overdue.

This plunder which makes any pillaging suffered by Malawians before look like kindergarten stuff, could not have happened if the Dr Ken Lipenga was the right person, with the right qualifications and experiences plus the requisite morality to head the ministry and motivate the staffers by setting the right standards and leading by example.

If anything, the revelations add weight to rumours that all what the clerks have been doing is following the “standards” of self-enrichment set by the minister of finance and his management team.

How else can millions stray from government coffers without the senior management authorising and approving the dubious and fraudulent vouchers and cheques? How else?

Let us not be too harsh and accept the Latin Maxim “Errare humanum est” (to err is human). But still we have to define the acceptable margin of error; or else we risk opening a Pandora Box.

And again, we have the ministry’s second core value:  “Professionalism” to contend with.

How can we reconcile mediocrity that allows massive fraud to go undetected for a long time with professionalism?

And speaking of Latin maxims, we should not look at the maxim above in isolation, but in its totality: “Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum”. Meaning while it is normal to make a mistake; you should not make the same mistake twice.

And if the billions flying all over the place in Malawi are anything to go by, the sticky-fingeredness at this ministry is more a habit than a fluke.

In conclusion, if tomorrow, we wake up and Dr. Ken Lipenga is still Minister of Finance, the Civil Society Organizations that have given President Joyce Banda ultimatums to clean the mess, can be assured of one thing, many Malawians, from, all walks of life, will march with them!

Turning to politics, the political parties that have called for independent investigations, dismissals and resignations, can be assured of one thing, many Malawians, from, all walks of life will, come May 2014 vote for them.

And dammit, solving a financial mismanagement riddle does not require military intervention!

Stop the fuckery Madam President!

 

Signed: Moshood P. Mbewe – Editor

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