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HomeLaw and ordercorruptionSundays with Cedrick: When a nation is in denial ….

Sundays with Cedrick: When a nation is in denial ….

Martha Chizuma: Ombudsman at Malawi Government

Cedrick Ngalande

At the end of his four-decade illustrious career, Bill Moyers produced a documentary titled, “Buying the War”. It is a fascinating documentary. If you have not seen it, look it up on YouTube.  

The documentary is about the second Gulf War. It talks about how the George W Bush administration was intent on ousting Saddam Hussein by ‘falsely’ claiming that he had weapons of mass destruction.  Although there were so many glaring loopholes in that argument, Bill Moyers says, reporters did not ask the tough questions. They simply went along with the plan.

At a press conference arranged to talk about the impending war, the president read from prepared remarks accusing Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and terrorists who attacked America. The president then took questions from the press. Reporters raised their hands politely as if signaling the president to call on them even though they knew that the president had already determined which reporters he would be calling. He had a sheet of paper in front of him with all the names he needed to call. Reporters simply played along and did not ask tough questions.

America was in denial about basic and conspicuous facts that questioned the link between Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destructions and the terrorists who attacked America. That denial facilitated a costly second gulf war.

A nation in denial is a nation on a path to trouble.

One could not help but remember these things in these past two weeks. The ombudsman, Martha Chizuma, was highly praised in social media when she came up with reports detailing how some people got government employment without following proper procedures. So, there it was! APM employed Collins Magalasi without following proper procedures. What a great job by Martha! After all, was she also not the one who without prompting posted in a social media a promise to investigate that clinic that reserved an hour for ‘Amwenye’ COVID vaccinations? Surely, our problems, as Malawians, have been solved because we have just discovered that DPP employed people without proper interviews … and they happened to be from that ‘belt’, you know!

Everybody knew, but nobody dared to point out, that Martha Chizuma was nothing but another political hack. It has been more than a month since President Chakwera promised to investigate the missing COVID K6.2 billion. The president gave himself deadlines to take care of this issue. He has so far failed to live up to those promises. Nothing has been said so far. Yet, Martha – the champion of transparency, is silent. The same Martha, who volunteered herself in social media to investigate that poor clinic, has conspicuously not yet volunteered herself to investigate the K6.2 billion.

Cedrick Ngalande

As Martha busies herself with government hiring practices of years ago, the current government is all but manned at the top by people from one region, even one district – Lilongwe, most of whom never passed through any formal interview as we know it. Martha is silent on this.

Everybody knows this, yet everybody pretends it is not true.  The practices of nepotism and tribalism were neither invented nor perfected by the DPP. In the long history of Malawi, there have been and continues to be many stories of tribalism in both government and private sectors. People have been getting jobs, scholarships and promotions based on districts or regions of origin. Tribalism is Malawi’s original sin and cannot be solved by political selective investigations or pointing fingers.

The ombudsman is not the only problem. Malawians are in denial about many things.  Immediately after the DPP left government, the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) quickly arrested former government officials, presidential bodyguards and froze bank accounts of others. People heaped praises at the ACB boss Reyneck Matemba for his efforts to root out corruption.

Yet, nobody asked the obvious question: if Reyneck and his team were so interested in rooting out corruption, and if the former officials he arrested were indeed corrupt, why wait for the officials to get out of government before arresting them? Was the ACB officials afraid to indict these individuals while they were in office? If Reyneck was afraid of losing his job for fighting corruption maybe he should not have been in that position, in the first place.

Everybody knows, but nobody wants to say it: The fact is that the ACB is simply a window-dressing institution. In its current form, it will not rid Malawi of any corruption at all. The ACB spends its time fighting ‘corruption’ that happened in previous governments.  Today in 2021, they are still talking about the money former President Muluzi allegedly took years ago before half the population of Malawi was born. Yet, just like the ombudsman, the ACB has not said anything about the K6.2 billion which is more pertinent to the present situation.

If I were to be president of Malawi, my first act in office on the first day would be to sign an executive order pardoning all people indicted or being investigated by the ACB up to that day. The job of the ACB should be to investigate the government of the day, and not waste resources on old cases. Because, until we force the ACB to investigate the government of the day, we will never defeat corruption.

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Cedrick Ngalande
Cedrick Ngalande
I am a strategic engineering executive with the technical breadth necessary to oversee all functions within the engineering team, with proven success in mentoring highly talented and successful engineers who aspire to perform with accountability for achieving their personal best while also meeting or exceeding company goals. I have always represented the company to the highest standards regarding engineering strategy, performance and outlook. My strong background in aerospace engineering, computer programming, stochastic processes and engineering probability is a result of my expertise in space environments with specialties in direct simulations Monte Carlo (DSMC) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), predictive science, investment and financial engineering. As an effective leader, I also bring a business focus in areas including corporate strategy, project analytics, materials planning, production and procurement. This business acumen is combined with my demonstrated technical tactical leadership. My key strengths include: - Engineering Management - Leadership / Mentor / Team Development - Quantitative / Qualitative Methods - Financial Engineering - DSMC / CFD - Numeric Modeling - Investment Analysis - SAP /ERP

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