Fiscal discipline and living within your means

I feel like I’ve written about this topic before. There’s something about that title that is vaguely familiar in an unsettling and tired kind of way. It’s either my subsconscious is weary to have heard such things so often, or more probably, buried deep somewhere within the 840 posts on this blog, there’s a gem with a title not too dissimilar to this one. One that is similiar enough for me to be able to associate this post with it.

Whichever way, at least one post here (titled ‘Priorities’), echoes sentiments similar to those addressed in this post. And come to think of it, now I’m hesitating whether to finish writing this post…why don’t I just refer everyone to a post titled ‘Priorities’ on Malawi Ace, and get on with other things…? Would be so much easier for me, i think.

But I won’t. And in case I’ve lost you, what i’m talking about is the reckless and irresponsible wastage happening in Malawi, under the watch of Peter Mutharika’s DPP government.

In an article titled ‘More extravagance at Parliamenthere the writer Deogratias Mmana, writing for the Times Group says the Malawian parliament has authorised spending on motor vehicles, meetings and fuel expenses – all unessential expenses.

Asked about the expenses, he quotes the speaker of parliament, Richard Msowoya giving what reads like an incoherent explanation devoid of any real rationale. Msowoya then refers other questions from the journalist to Financial Controller Chikondi Kachinjika, who doesn’t proide any explanation whatsover as to the rationale of the expenses. The article ends with government spokesperson and Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango attacking parliament, accusing parliamentarians of self-enrichment, of being insensitive to the current economic situation in which many Malawians are struggling…

And I must say it’s all rather peculiar…

Whichever way you try and analyse it you can’t miss the blame game going on.

Everyone seems to be baming DPP, but once every now and again, a DPP spokesperson will turn round, and point fingers at someone else. ..

Let’s break it down a little… isn’t Richard Msowoya an MCP Member of Parliament? If so, don’t you think it is somewhat strange that these accusations come right on the back heel of the recent accusations levelled against Peter Mutharika regarding his bloated UN entourage?

To me this reads like either a diversion tactic (a way to deflect the entourage blame Mutharika knows is justified); or it’s a long-winded way of saying don’t blame Mutharika over the New York UN Trip and self-erichment, other legislators including MCP MP’s are also stealing from Malawi.

And why do I say that? Well, just look at the choice of language by Mhango… It’s as if DPP members of parliament are not recipients of the very same expenses he decries?? Also, what Chakwera, the MCP President says here is rather telling. His Speech includes the statement:

Vilifying others, on issues that you have more control of and on which you are mandated constitutionally to control, is the last thing that will resolve our current and ever-increasing challenges.

Further, why hasn’t Peter Mutharika come out in the open to question the spending? Can we honestly say that he did not know that parliament was spending K300 million on unessential expenses? If he didn’t know about the wastage, shouldn’t he have known – especially in light of the tough economic conditions Malawi is currently facing? Shouldn’t his advisers have alerted him of the issue, and it’s implications, with a view that he would intervene?

If it is the case that he knew, why didn’t he act or say something against it earlier – instead of relying on Mhango’s dubious comments? Let’s not forget that this is a man who not too long ago, just last December, was able to initially defer (or should i use the word ‘delay’) his own salary and salary increments of MP’s. In that episode, Mutharika saw what was coming and acted appropriately some may say…

I’m not placing all the blame on the president. Infact I’m not placing any blame on him at all. I’m just wondering who knew what when? Because to me, its seems if these things are known beforehand, something can always be done to stop them — before the media picks up on them, and a circus develops.

Malawi will not improve if political leaders continue to put their appetite for luxury and opulence before those of the country, or for that matter the people. It’s a mantra many far better placed commentators have repeated over the years. The money that would have been used to fund hospitals, to buy food for the millions of people who are now in danger of hunger due to the floods, the money that would have been used to fund the sourcing of educational equipment and infrastructure upgrade is instead wasted on luxuries that have no long term benefit to Malawians….how can the country improve like that?

Malawian legislators need to seriously start thinking about what they should do to get the country on the right footing. Not accusing each other and playing silly blame games. And you don’t need expensive vehicles, or meetings that break the bank to be able to do that.


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