By Patricia Chikalaza
This is an open letter to President Lazarus Chakwera on wrongly how he goofed towards Central bank, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) operation upon ascending to Presidency, June 2020.
Chakwera got ill advises from his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) cohorts to meet their selfish interests than that of the country.
Chikalaza tells Chakwera on the face:
YOU ARE WRONGLY ADVISED ON RESERVE BANK OF MALAWI
Constitutionalism is the idea, often associated with the political theories of John Locke and the founders of American republic, that Government can and should be limited in its powers, and that its authority or legitimacy depends on its observing these limitations. This preamble is about constitutionalism which is a backbone of our democracy.
The most difficult part Your Excellency is that the constitution gives us limits on what we should or not do. Unfortunately, constitutionalism and rule of law is becoming challenging in Malawi Congress Party (MCP) administration and we are slowly degenerating into selective justice and outright abuse of the constitution especially where it comes to dealing with people perceived as enemies commonly referred to as ‘cadets and rubble’
Events emerging from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) is exposing how wrong footed your administration is after making a hasty decision on the Management at the bank. When you took over power and the Presidency of the country, you were super charged to deal with what you termed as ‘rubble’ and it all seemed like you had the right information on how to move the country forward.
The RBM and Civil Service was among the first ‘rubble’ that you wanted to deal with and improve. Nine months down the line, evidence and happenings in both the Civil Service and RBM are showing that you acted with wrong Intel and advice.
In Civil Service, Your Excellency you fired or made redundant career civil servants with misinformation of cleaning the rubble. Principle Secretaries were either fired or made redundant. The same with directors in different Ministries. The end results is that you hired a Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) in the name of Zangazanga who every day is proving to be the liability to Tonse Government. If the report by the Ombudsman about former Chief Secretary Muhara is anything to go by, Zangazanga is way in too deep. Starting with wrong appointments, to making decisions that is wrong footing the Government.
Your whip on RBM is now proving to be one of the regrettable decisions made by the President. No matter how much the praise singers and PR done, the actions on RBM are proving tricky and if not managed will expose the entire Tonse Government and make the bank lose billions in compensation which would have been avoided in the first place.
As things are emerging Your Excellency, it seems before assuming the Presidency, you had people who convinced you that they can do a better job at RBM and that it needs cleaning. This was against all the positive economic indicators that was showing prudent management at the bank including those to do with interest rates, inflation rate, import cover etc and above all, the bank being able to make a huge profit of over MK50billion from a loss position three years earlier.
As a result of this advice, you acted against the RBM by removing the entire board of the RBM while Section 6(3) of the said act is very clear on the need to retain some members from the previous board in order to sustain Institutional memory. This led to further firing and replacement the whole management of RBM including the governor.
The new governor, to sound relevant opted to take a salary cut and ensure that his predecessor is demonized by the act. RBM is and has always remained one of the top notch institutions that has strongest control measures to detect and avoid fraud. The controls in place are such that makes the bank to be par excellent as is demanded by similar banks worldwide.
For the first time, the bank sank so low and started leaking internal information to party operatives and used an internal audit process to expunge those deemed as enemies. The public was fed with bits and pieces of sensational news just to demonize the previous governor and members of the board.
This is where things got interesting. The decision to force RBM employees to take a salary cut was and remains illegal and against the labour laws. However, the bank management taking advantage of the gullibility of Malawians and hate for past regime, engaged in a process of demonizing those directors that challenged the decision on salary cut. Mercenaries were hired to badmouth the people at the bank. Ironically, legal advisors to the bank advised the new management on the fruitlessness of the actions. This was coupled with several other legal experts who warned the bank on the move.
One of the affected officers challenged the decision and sought legal action on the same. Party cadres went to town demonizing the action which ironically is about one’s rights. Now the strange part is that so far, the Courts agrees and has ordered RBM not to effect the salary cuts and ensure that all contractual benefits are given according to the court documents I have seen.
Your Excellency, as much energy at RBM is being put to purging people perceived as ‘rubble and cadets’ it’s strange that the fiscal policy in Malawi is going off-track. The foreign reserves are being depleted fast and indicators are high that the bank is likely to move from a huge profit of over MK50billion realized at the end of 2019 fiscal year to less or even a loss. Above all, the bank stand to lose billions in compensation towards unlawfully labour practices.
It’s time that Your Excellency must accept that you were wrongly advised on RBM. The Internal Audit is going nowhere and now it’s becoming a witch hunt proving very difficult especially with the stringent controls that the bank adheres to. The issue of salary of the former governor is just an emotional subject and nothing illegal.
Is it not strange that eight months down the line, the Bank is failing to make a decision on how to treat the deputy governor who is on full pay and full benefits but at home? It’s like being caught between a rock and hard surface. It’s either you allow him back to work so that the bank realizes the value for money being paid to him or else relieve him of his duties and pay him his dues.
Your Excellency, since your High 5 agenda includes rule of law, please order RBM to follow the court order. Similarly, you are a President of Malawi. That means it includes the people who are not part of Tonse or MCP. It includes people you term as ‘cadets’ and they are protected by the Constitution of the republic of Malawi, of which you swore to protect.
Therefore, you cannot continue to denying other Malawians their rights just because you deem them to be cadets, unless they are proven not performing their duties. So far Your Excellency, most actions taken are seemingly as a result of emotions and wrong Intel than facts. You don’t have a luxury to choose which citizens should be accorded their rights according to the constitution. Cleaning the rubble should not be an excuse to disregard the constitution.
Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in the articles are those of the author not necessarily of the Maravi Post or Editor