Former Malawian President Joyce Banda named as witness in Cashgate Case

JB-abitiThis morning’s Nation newspaper has a cover story in which former president of Malawi Joyce Banda has been named yet again as a witness in the court case against Pika Manondo.

Manondo is being accused as involved in the plot to kill former budget director Paul Mphwiyo; an attempted murder that unravelled the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill by public officials including civil servants and cabinet ministers, locally dubbed Cashgate scandal.

Joyce Banda was first named a witness in the Cashgate related case against former minister of justice and constitutional affairs Ralph Kasambara, but she refused to testify. She had claimed a few hours after the shooting that she knew people who had shot Mphwiyo, but later retracted her claim, saying she knew that the people were enemies of Malawi. Legal experts say her comments may lead to a charge of contempt of court if she subsequently does not show up after being summoned to appear as a witness. Unlike before, when she had presidential immunity, she currently cannot claim such protections as a former president – a cause some people believe drove her to leave the country soon after the elections.

It will be interesting what will happen this time around, since she has not returned to Malawi since leaving after losing the May 2014 elections. Further, Paul Mphwiyo is now answering charges of Tax evasion and corruption, and does not appear to be the victim Malawians were first led to believe.

What is strange with the news about Banda being summoned is that the report quotes Manondo’s lawyer as saying that discussions as to whether to summon Banda or not have not been concluded by the defence??

More information can be found here (Malawi Nation).

Malawi Cashgate 2.0 in the making: a new IFMIS, into the same old unreformed system

Cashgate 2.0 is in the process of developing. As I write this post the wheels of another scandal are turning. And I hope I am wrong, because the results will not be pretty.

But for any avoidance of doubt, let me say if in 10 years time the then government of Malawi is still grappling with the same corrupt practices in the civil service that are facing the current government, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

After failing to implement the recommendations of various reviews of the IFMIS system, some dating back to 2009 (which I’ll try to share here if time allows), the Government of Malawi has recently published a call for bids to tender to supply a new IFMIS??

So here’s a question, why invest your resources into the purchase of a different system when

(1) The old system is not broken – merely under-utilised, not fully installed/ adopted, and is still open to abuse? Despite various reviews and audits which included recommendations

(2) When you’ve spent over US$10 million + dollars on the old system. Many more millions on audits…

We’ll be asking these questions here, including dissecting the leaked PwC audit report, a copy of which we have seen!

When $10 MILLION DOLLARS + has/ will be spent on different aspects of the current IFMIS, are we really going to spend $10 million every 6 years on new systems?

The old system is not broken, take it from me — ive read the reports, it’s not broken. It’s merely under-utilised, and open to abuse, and instead of deploying it properly, applying the security patches which were recommended by various audits, tests and reviews, you are issuing out another misguided tender?? Wasting money you do not have…

Are the World Bank on board with this latest display of acute idiocy?

Why do you need a new IFMIS, what for!? Where are they getting the money for these things? I thought the country was broke?

Looking at all this, I can’t help but wonder what the likes of Soft Tech and other suppliers will be thinking…azingoti anthu awa ndi zitsiru…Vindele venecho, infact vindele vinandi led by some chief chindele (whoever decided it was sensible to procure a new system). Because where is the logic in bringing in a new system when you never tried to implement the recommendations and patches which were outlined in various reviews of the old system? When you never attempted to fix the leakages of the old system why buy new software?

Apatu njoka zina zikufuna zidye nawo ndalama. Thats the only explanation. This, without a shadow of a doubt is the beginning of another deeper corruption scandal!

A High Court reporter who travels with important court documents

bgWhen it doesn’t rain, it pours. Almost everyday, a scandal emerges in Malawi that shows the level of incompetency and dysfunction that exists on all levels. Yesterday Zodiac online posted this on their Facebook page:

A high court reporter in Lilongwe says she has been robbed of recorders and other court documents containing various cases. The court reporter, has told this Zodiak online reporter that the thieves have made away with two recorders that contain court information on Cashgate cases and also the ongoing Paul Mphwiyo attempted-murder case.The robbery is said to have occurred Tuesday mid-day at the Crossroads Complex where her vehicle was forced open.
She has since reported the matter to Lilongwe police station where authorities have told Zodiak Online they need sometime before making a public comment on the matter.

What was she doing with the court recorders at the Crossroads Complex? Should classified court documents be carried around to public venues recklessly like that? When the case at hand is so important? And why should a court reporter have access to court documents anyway? Shouldn’t such information be kept within the court, each time a day’s deliberations had finished. Hidden away in a locked safe, and protected from any partisan interference? To be accessed only when it is necessary to do so.

I’m not convinced. Something smells funny. Also, in any case why should anyone believe this story? What if it’s a heist? Planned by some people with the sole aim of derailing the court process. What is the difference between this and the files of the trial of Muluzi, which are also said to have gone missing?

As the record stands, previous governments in Malawi have not been particularly good at concluding corruption investigations, and in some cases judges have been inefficient, if not negligent when it comes to getting to the bottom of cases. In almost all of such cases, missing evidence was one of the major limiting factors terminating the trials.

The stupid woman should be fired, and the alleged backups better be real (not imagined like the CCTV evidence of State House).

Otherwise all hell will break loose…

The people who stand accused in the Cashgate Scandal are answering charges of stealing millions of dollars at the expense of Malawians. This is a serious charge. Yet look now – you want to set them free without a trial. Just like you’ve done with Bakili Muluzi, and many others in the past. Grow up Malawians. Siutchale ayi, ndi uchitsiru.

How are foreigners supposed to take us seriously with such silliness?

Malawi cancels $145 million arms deal with SA firm: report

Original article here (via Times Live)

Malawi cancels $145 million arms deal with SA firm: report

The agreement between the Malawi Government and Paramount Group has been abrogated. That is all I can confirm and say,” Gondwe told Saturday’s Nation newspaper.

The paper quoted a source within the finance ministry as saying the government of President Peter Mutharika told the firm the deal was “illegal and expensive”.

More on original article here

Comment

I think President Peter Mutharika must be hugely commended for doing this. The relationship between Paramount and Joyce Banda was unhealthily close. The whole fiasco regarding the arms deal, and the jet bartering and the comments from the UN had an air of dishonesty and special interests about it. I don’t believe the arms deal was to the benefit of the people of Malawi, and Joyce Banda was wrong to associate her government with these guys. As I wrote here, most of these deals benefit people other than Malawians.

Having said that, I wonder what it will cost the country to terminate the contract? Wait, was there a contract? Or was this another gentleman’s agreeement? We will need to know how much it costs the country, and why the president calls it ‘illegal…’. Presumably, the get-out clause is a better devil than paying $145 million? Although what you don’t want to happen is to spend additional millions of dollars you don’t have in court cases fighting a contract that is impenetrable.

I hope President Mutharika will make do on his promises to clean up government in Malawi, and not waste time with propaganda or fighting opponents. I hope he does away with all such useless and ‘illegal’ commitments Malawians never needed. I’d like to see Mutharika revisit Kayelekera, and ‘abrogate’ the unfair Paladin deal. I’d like to see him push for the completion of the Shire-Zambezi waterway, which his brother Bingu Wa Mutharika began – it will lower the cost of goods in Malawi. I’d like to see Malawians realise real benefit from the Vale railway line. I’d like to see Malawi University of Science and Technology open and begin training students in areas which the country is lagging behind. I’d like to see the restrictive and backward thinking regional quota system for university entrance abolished, and in its place an improved open merit based system established. It will be good to see more Universities built across Malawi, and there are many donors who will support this initiative. The proposed mini Chinese city could have huge benefits in terms of stimulating trade and entrepreneurship for both China and Malawi, the president must pursue the agreement, and see its completion. Why can’t we have our own oil refinery? As the Zambians have done (see another link here). There are many ideas the government can adopt to generate income and raise funds outside of taxes. Over a year ago, I helpfully listed some here.

But most of all, I’d like to see president Mutharika get to the bottom of the Cashgate scandal , prosecute all who were responsible for the theft, and close any remaining loopholes in IFMIS. Malawi can never move forward if people continue to steal from the government – and get away with it.

So far, so good. Well done Mr President Sir!

Strengthening Civil Society Organisations in Malawi

CSO-imageWhen a marriage has hit the rocks, one of the most common remedies in the modern world is for the couple to go for marital counselling. To visit a marriage counsellor. It doesn’t always help, and sometimes a matrimonial union will come to a bitter end no matter how many hours of counselling you throw at it. The dynamics of that marriage were such that it was eventually going to fail.

In Malawi, people go to what are known as Ankhoswe (essentially the marriage guardian) to resolve marital conflicts. In traditional Malawian society, there is a special type of principle whereby it is not sufficient for two people to be married without consulting the ankhoswe. For a marriage to be recognsised as valid, ankhoswes from both sides of the union must approve the marriage. Absence of the ankhoswe renders the marriage invalid, and when problems arise in the marriage, the ankhoswe is one of the very first people to be informed. In this case, the ankhoswe takes the role of counsellor or mediator. 

But the whole point of counselling, the whole point of a mediator, is to bring in an element of the outsider’s view. An independent viewpoint from a mature person, an expert at resolving conflicts who can try and bridge the gap; to knock in some sense, ask the awkward questions, to rebuke, and if necessary, challenge any irrational or stupid behaviour. 

There’s a parallel in Politics, in that in most democracies, there are times when the ‘marriage’ between the powers that be (the government), and the people, requires a mediator. There are times when a counsellor is essential. In constitutional democracies, this job is often one for the courts to undertake, but not necessarily its preserve. Because by virtue of courts being manned by judges  – flesh and blood who have career aspirations, political persuasions, favourites and so forth – it is not always the case that courts are independent or impartial.

Religious organisations, civil society organisations, the Media and other commentators form a group that may occasionally take up this mantle, to sing praises where such is due, to advise when necessary, to point out deficiencies in public policy, to ask the difficult questions, to lobby the government towards a particular cause, but also to criticise when wrongdoing has occured. Like the courts, there are limits to the extent to which their intervention is effective, although in some ways it can be a lot more effective in orchestrating change than the courts – since this group tends to be a lot closer to the people, and are thus more influential. Especially when they are united in a single voice. Further, like the courts, they too can be influenced (sometimes negatively) by the government, which can have negative consequences on the people. But unlike courts, the bigger player in a political marriage may not always be willing to listen to Ciivil Society Organisations.

Which presents a problem, because for this marriage to work (at least up to the next election), the bigger party to the marriage must be willing to listen to the grievances of the smaller party. The bigger party must make do on its promises. Otherwise, all hell can break loose and the government can find itself on the defensive, doing irrational and illegal things in an attempt to survive. Essentially forcing itself onto the people. A rape of sorts. Arguably, this is what happened during the last days of Bingu Wa Mutharika’s reign.

In Malawi, we are at a stage in our country’s political development where civil society is beginning to have an increasing influence in politics. This was particularly evident not only during the reign of Bingu Wa Mutharika, but also during Joyce Banda’s tenure. It was the media, the church and civil society who rebuked Bingu over his dictatorial pronouncements – hand in hand with the donor community. They were at Bingu’s throat over Mota Engil. And Mulli. It was this group which held Joyce Banda to task over the asset declaration issue, over Jetgate (and shady deals with defence contractors), Cashgate, the fleet of vehicles, even over the excessive travelling of Joyce Banda. And eventually, when May 2014 came, we all know what happened.

Today, we have a new DPP government, which I’m told is trying to complete the job they began under Bingu Wa Mutharika. In governing, it would be wise for this DPP government not to over-believe its own hype. There is need for mediators, even though there may appear to be no problems at the moment. Still, some people on the ground say that the economy in Malawi is sluggish, and things are slow. So while the environment is that of calm, it’s not exactly hunky dory. Poverty is still widespread in Malawi and money is not yet growing on trees; the land hasn’t yet morphed into a nirvana flowing with milk and honey, the union hasn’t quite reached that coveted state of marital bliss we are all looking forward to.

Which is why I strongly believe that more must be done to strengthen civil society organisations in Malawi, in terms of ensuring they are well resourced and that they can do their job without fear of intimidation. That they can function without political interference. More has to be done in making sure that they are relevant in addressing the issues affecting peoples lives. It’s important, it’s good for our country’s development.

But who’s task is it to strengthen Civil Society Organisations?

How about every Malawian’s task?

The government has an interest for their governance to proceed as smoothly as is possible, so they have to be proactive in helping civil society stand on its own feet – to be not only a check of power, but to communicate to the people the achievements, the process of fulfilling the pre-election promises.

The people have an interest for their government to be accountable, so that the government delivers on what it promised, so they too must be proactive in helping improve Civil society organisations – to ensure that CSO’s monitor the government. This is important so that the government meets the people’s demands. After all, most past government in Malawi have abused the people’s trust and plundered public resources at will. Surely, this impunity has to come to an end at some point.

Donors too have an interest in preserving and growing democracy, and in advancing the aims of the countries from which they come. For this to be possible, the political landscape has to be stable, and for that to happen, the government of the day has to be accountable, and effective (otherwise this happanes). Thus, donors are stakeholders who have an interest in Malawi having a strong and independent CSO sector.

And why should Civil Society Organisations be strong?

Because doing so is a necessary ingredient in creation of a strong democracy. The media can be bought by any fool with deep pockets. Similarly, the courts can be corrupted by power-hungry leaders, religious organisations can be partial (disowning clergy folk who diverge from their stance), the police force can be incapacitated by political implants (the likes of people like Bophani), the public broadcaster can be forced to favouritism, even a general of a country’s army can take sides.

But not all Civil Society Organisations can be compromised (even though some will falter at the sight of a hefty bribe). And that is precisely why they need to be strong.

Slow Justice: delays / inaction of Malawi’s institutions symptomatic of a weak democracy?

There’s a bad habit in Malawi of authorities sitting on cases  (in which shady dealings or suspect conduct had taken place) and piling them on the shelf for years and years. This almost intrinsic dormancy does not only affect formal legal cases. Even others which are strictly speaking neither before a court of law nor pending investigations of impropriety (but are nonetheless issues which in any decent democracy would call for investigations) are simply ignored, or at least not attended to. In Malawi, depending on who is in power, people often get prosecuted only after a new leader hostile to the old regime comes into power. At least that’s what seems to have been happening in the past.

And it’s not because there are no competent bodies to do the investigation or order the prosecutions (there is the Anti-corruption Bureau, the Judiciary or even the Public Affairs Committee to highlight wrongdoing). Yet more often than not, you find issues which should have been investigated or cases which should  have been brought to an end dragging on for years and years, when it is clear (or the suspicions are somewhat overwhelming) that wrongdoing may have occurred.

Obviously, such a state of affairs is undesirable and can only mean one or more of a number of things:  (i) A weak democracy with weak institutions incapable of competently undertaking their jobs for the benefit of Malawians – an unattractive market to any investor. or  it can mean (ii) Political interference obstructing the course of justice – making the market even more unattractive to investors ; or (iii) Under-resourced or overstretched institutions failing to allocate resources or cope with workload …

Among the cases / suspicious issues which call for investigation or are yet to be concluded in Malawi are the following:-

  • Bingu Wa Mutharika’s unexplained wealth  (see another source here)
  • Bingu’s relationship with Mota-Engil
  • Malawi: Ex-President Muluzi’s corruption trial – this trial has had some severe delays partly due to Muluzi’s ill health, and at one point last year, the then head of ACB couldn’t make a court date because he had to appear before a magistrate for a matter the ACB director had been arrested over. (see another source here and additional / alleged charges against Muluzi here)
  • Pioneer Chemicals saga which named Goodall Gondwe (never mind his latest turn back into politics) was dropped by the ACB with little explanation other than that ACB lacked evidence. Why then did ACB make the allegation in the first place?? What did they see or hear that drove them to make the allegation?
  • Patricia Kaliati – Nyika Corruption saga   (See another report here. A further corruption case against Kaliati here)
  • Apollo International fiasco in which Ken Lipenga has some explaining to do
  • Fertiliser subsidy saga which raises possibilities of conflicts of interests affecting cabinet ministers in Joyce Banda’s government
  • The Midnight six – how can people who plotted what was effectively a coup in a democracy be dealt with so leniently? Will they be let off the hook? Will they go to prison? Will the President pardon them? Something doesn’t add up…
  • The Paladin Kayelekera Uranium issue  (see other links here and here).  While Paladin has denied any involvement in paying bribes, to me two questions still remain: How could the government have signed such a bad contract with little or no benefit to Malawi – and how could such an action be justified as being in the interest of Malawians? (ii) Secondly, which Fraud/ Corrupt company ever admitted to paying bribes or doing wrong? (See related document about Paladin’s activities / transparency record here: Radioactive Revenues)
  • Mathews Chikaonda and Hitesh Anadkat –  the K320 million corporate scam, in which investors lost money, and which was alleged to have been a case of insider trading. However, as most Malawians know, president Joyce Banda has a close relationship with the duo, and in one instance was pictured wearing attire with colours of FMB, the bank in which Anadkat is the Vice Chairman.  The scandal was reported on Nyasa Times on March 6, 2012, although interestingly, the story has since been deleted – reinforcing some of the things people on social media have been saying about Nyasa Times’ lack of impartiality. Luckily for those of us who know how to hack our way around the web,  a cached version (which we have downloaded in full) is still available on google (accessible via  this link), as can be seen below:

Chikaonda-Anadkat

  • Dr Kamuzu Banda’s estate – was it really all legally obtained? Don’t Malawians deserve to know? In the bbc article, the writer says a missing death certificate is the reason why overseas financial institutions will not release the information regarding his accounts. My question is this:  if there was genuine leadership in Malawi, wouldn’t it be in the interest of the country, for the government (or the appropriate authority / hospital) to request the issue of another replacement death certificate, to audit the source of Banda’s wealth??
  • Then there are alleged cases of corruption mentioned in links such as these , which names late Aleke Banda, Cassim Chilumpha, Bakili Muluzi, the current vice president Khumbo Kachali and the president herself.

Reading all these allegations, it makes one wonder, if there wasn’t an investigation at the time when the cases were reported, if no one was prosecuted, and there was no clear clarification / acquittal, what hope would there be today of ending graft in Malawi?

In almost every advanced country in the world, institutions such as Anticorruption bodies and the judiciary operate independently of the government. If an official or politician commits what is clearly a crime or is involved in some kind of shady conduct, the courts in collaboration with investigators and the media will often get to the bottom of the matter, irrespective of whether the politician / official belongs to the ruling party or some power bloc.

This fact alone is probably one of the best indicators of a healthy democracy.

But in most African countries, this kind of thing doesn’t happen. Rather, one’s liability to prosecution is influenced by how many friends they keep in high political office, the police , the judiciary and suchlike.

How then can our democracies in Africa progress if our institutions are not genuinely independent of the powers that be?

So, on top of all that pile of cases add Cashgate to the list with its many complex scandals (most recently see  here)…and it starts to become clear that the road to a functional democracy in Malawi, one with effective  institutions that operate independent of the government, will be a very long one…

Similar

Cashgate’s Missing pieces: The many puzzles in Malawian politics

kachaje-paste

party

priorities

Just a few example of what people are saying online. As I’ve stated several times previously, social media is always awash with scandal. Overflowing speculation, literally bubbling with the stuff. That’s the picture one gets when they visit Facebook groups such as this.

If it wasn’t for the well-known fact that some of this stuff that begins its journeys circulating on social media actually end up being true, or at least not entirely false, I’d just give up on some of these groups altogether.

Inevitably, things people say within Social Media can be hard to distinguish from mere speculation, and that means if you source some material from them, and present it as fact, you are taking a risk. Having said that, the situation becomes different when the speculation contains more than a few truths within it. And when it is presented as speculation.

Below are some of the  views that I have recently encountered, which minimally presents the sentiments within some quarters in Malawi. Whether these views represent a majority is doubtful. Whether they are genuine (as opposed to parody) is open to question…

joyce BandaThis is in response to a news update that appeared on president Banda’s Facebook page that the president had been appointed as Patron of the Nelson Mandela Children’s hospital Trust :

patron

And then there are the allegation’s against the presidency and supposed conspirators within the cashgate. This was published today on the social media outlet I referred to above:

NEW CASHGATE REVELATIONS: CIVIL SERVANT FILISA BEING PROTECTED BY JOYCE BANDA

Malawi’s Cashgate beleaguered interim President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda has been caught in a catch 22 situation where she has sacrificed some officials while protecting those that will expose her involvement in the Cashgate corruption scandal.

We can reveal that McFelton Filisa, a civil servant who has stolen millions in taxpayer’s money but is being protected by President Joyce Banda from prosecution.

Efforts by the Anti-Corruption Bureau to arrest him after twice appearing before them for investigations have fallen on deaf ears.

MCFELTON FILISA HISTORY

Mcfelton Filisa is a Chancellor College graduate in Computer Science who works in the Malawi Government’s Civil Service Commission. He joined Malawi government in 2007.

Filisa is one if the IT experts used by President Joyce Banda to raid IFMIS and syphon government money.

We are reliably informed that from every transaction Filisa made on behalf of the President, he received 10 per cent of whatever millions were syphoned out.

When he worked in the Accountant General’s office, Filisa’s work was to enter fictitious payments in the IFMIS system and after processing them to delete them and leave no trail.

He was however, transferred to the Civil Service Commission after his clandestine activities with President Joyce Banda were leaked to the media by his estranged wife.

Although he has changed offices, Filisa has got user-rights to continue accessing the IFMIS system.

He is reported to have been keeping at least MK50 million at a go in his residence on many occasions.

MCFELTON FILISA PROPERTY

Mr Filisa lives in opulence. He owns:

4 houses: One in Area 25 , 2 houses in New Area 49 ,1 house with swimming pool in New Area 49 Gulliver
1 house in Area 47 Sector 5 , 1 4X4 Lexus Land Cruiser, 1 Mercedes Benz, 1 BMW , 1Toyota Fortuner

HOUSE IN AREA 49, NEW GULLIVER

This house in the pictures is a Cashgate house that belongs to Mcfelton Filisa.
Initially, Filisa had wanted the property to be a lodge.

However, work at the site has been stopped because of disagreements with his estranged wife who is also claiming the same property.

When we visited the multi-million house this week we discovered the following; it has cctv cameras, every room has a jacuzzi, it has a very nice fish pond, and they use electronic cards to open the doors.

My first problem with this is where did this guy get all this information from? He doesn’t say so, and that in itself is problematic, if not suspect. Further, who is he, a member of the Anti-corruption bureau? A forensic investigator? Or a concerned citizen? Whoever he is, such news stories are many and commonplace, they are the order of the day in Malawi. Days before, the same person posted a story alleging that the president was constructing a filling station and blocks of flats in Lilongwe:

filling-station

And a few days previously:

PaulMphwiyo

Yesterday, the well-known lawyer Z Allan Ntata, who informally goes by the name The Chief Mourner put out the following about Mpwiyo:

PAUL MPHWIYO LIED TO PARLIAMENT AND SHOULD BE PROSECUTED, NOT PROMOTED

Paul Mphwiyo perjured himself before Parliament and ought to be prosecuted. Mphwiyo told PAC he has a number of businesses that support his lifestyle. He said tha ACB probed him some time back and found nothing.

When ACB investigated him it turned out that none of the businesses he alleged could support his extravagant lifestyles. When ACB interrogated his alleged business partners they all denied making the kind of money Paul alleged and even referred the ACB to a banker who could vouch for Pauls crookedness.

Either ACB is corrupt or incompetent because all it had to do is cross check with MRA. Some one who is in business and makes enough money to buy a number of Fortuners and M class Mercedes as well as build a big house in months, furnished entirely from China and then put in a swimming pool, drill a high powered borehole, put I’m CCTV and still have money left over to fly to Disneyland USA with his family for a short break must be in big business and must be paying high taxes.

If there is no record of his business taxes at MRA then he either perjured himself at PAC, paid off ACB, or is guilty of tax evasion or all three.

Paul Mphwiyo needs to be brought to book and prosecuted for either of or all of these offenses, IF the President is serious about cashgate, not rewarded with a promotion as President Banda has done.

On the subject of assets, a few weeks earlier, someone posted this about Joyce Banda:

Joyce Banda’s wealth: Assets = Stella Maris Townhouses worth about MK 100 million, House in Kabula 100 million, Kanjuwe Building used for selling sugar 50 million, Ndirande Building used for selling 6 million, House in Chintheche 150 million, 50 tippers at 10 million each, 700 trucks masked under other names, school 300 million, current allowances for foreign trips = US $ 9000 per day, Trips around Africa $ 6000 per day, Local Allowances 12-15 million a day!!  How did she acquire all this wealth? If a tax audit was done by independent authorities, will she be found to be innocent?

Again big question marks everyuwhere. Is this propaganda?

However, regarding Mpwiyo, if it is the case that he lied, then it is unfortunate, as the impression that has been put forward all alomng by the government of Malawi is that he was trying to bust graft. Having said that, there are many people who claim Mphwiyo is not clean. These people say that Mphwiyo is in fact a crook. The specific evidence to their claims is what is missing.

A few days ago someone wrote:

…I feel exactly the same way. It is true in Malawi we are not free yet. There is no true democracy, people are still living as though they are being ruled by dictators. We do not have to hide our feelings, we do not have to walk the line that they have drawn for us, we must not stand for any more mediocrity but must ask more from our politicians and our selves. The statement Ukapilile must stop being chanted. We must take the example of the 1st world nations and start firing our politicians, just cause they has a seat does not mean they can not be impeached. It is our money they are playing and our lives. We as Engineers, Doctors, Economists, Managers, Accountants, etc. educated as we are yet we can not, in our own country afford the same life styles that our fellows are able to afford in the same line of work as us in there countries. Let us stop talking in our homes and march to the beat of our own drums and tell them no more. We will not be brain washed by your empty promises, we will not lay and wait as you plunder all that is ours, and we will not go gentle into that…

Frustration and helplessness in the face of what they view as a government which is doing too little to help. On the same day, another person wrote:

If you let someone undermine you, they will do exactly that. Political and economic stability in Africa in general is just a dream for most because they have allowed themselves to be undermined by their political masters. Dictatorship clothed in democracy is being extensively tolerated by the same people being short changed. Economy is being used as a tool to decide and rule to avoid accountability by the theives disguised as political leaders. We have too many political parties because each one is not interested in serving the people but personal glory of the individuals concerned.

Whether you view this as more philosophical than practical, or as a protest against a system that is broken from the core, it seems there are quite a considerable number of people who see the system itself as being at fault. The other day another person wrote something similar: 

…Our cultural background has made us adopt informal norms in governance, in which the leadership is feared, adored and worshiped even in the wake of gross public resource mismanagements and poor governance. The idea of ‘big man’ ‘ngwazi’ ‘chitsulo cha njanji’ etc have catapulted our leaders into less responsive leaders, because they turn into semi-gods and untouchables as such they become arrogant (a worst form of stupidity). Political policies must be formulated to regulate giving too much power to our leaders, for them to be servants not masters. We cannot scrap important notions of our constitution, but we can regulate some clauses that put in danger and disrepute our hard won democracy. Secondly, the citizenry is more concerned with a government that is responsive; when our people ask for a borehole, know for sure they have suffered long enough. A responsive government will always address pertinent issues that affect its people outright and beforehand. The people’s interest and their emancipation must come first.

Then there are the general grievances against the investigations into cashgate:

Mayaya-cashgatelutepo2

Including some who think not enough is being done to get to the bottom of Cashgate, and that there’s still more to be done:

auditsThere are many view over the events that have been unfolding, but I have to end this post here.

Only time will tell how true these serious allegations are, and I hope the courts in Malawi will uphold justice over political favours throughout the investigation process. But one can’t be too sure… The preliminary findings (below according to one source) are not exactly what you would call encouraging:

preliminary-report

My own viewpoint is that as a matter of principle, a leader’s credibility is greatly diminished when they stand in the way of an investigation. It doesn’t matter who the leader is. Irrespective of the efficacy of the judicial system within a country, a political leader must not obstruct due legal process.

Global disease

Some parts of the world look just the same. If you look closely, carefully – their going-ons look exactly the same.

Never mind what Matt Damon says here about the world, in which he says:

“… that the wrong people are in power. And the wrong people are out of power.That the wealth is distributed in this country and the world in such a way, as not simply to require a small reform, but to require a drastic reallocation of wealth…Now if you don’t think, if you just, listen to Tv and read scholarly things, you actually begin to think that things are not so bad…”

…if you look closely enough, some things seem to be slowly replicating themselves, over and over, across the globe. Indeed there is nothing new under the sun.

Take Gloria Arroyo (see short profile via BBC here) the former president of the Philippines, for example. While some of her supporters will inevitably counter that the case brought against her regarding diversion of disaster relief funds (see another here), and misusing lottery funds (~$8.8 million) – for which she was arrested – is in fact politically motivated, few will argue that such things don’t happen elsewhere.

In Haiti – a country 10,000 miles away from the Philippines, reconstruction officials and aid organisations have been accused of diverting millions of dollars (see another source here via New Internationalist) of reconstruction funds. In Japan, after the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami, US$2 billion was diverted, according to a Japanese Newspaper. Even authorities in the US have been accused of attempting to divert funds raised and donated for hurricane Katrina victims (see source here), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been sued over the matter.

In Malawi today, we have a president who, in my view, has a lot more in common with Gloria Arroyo, than with an ordinary Malawian woman from a village in Mulanje. (see a list detailing some of Gloria Arroyo’s government’s scandals here)

Joyce Banda has a whole string of gaffes behind her (either bad advice or she must learn to speak fewer silly things); Like Arroyo, Banda has been accused of diverting funds into private or personal projects (including using Independence Celebration funds for a PP party commemoration), and her food distribution exercises have been criticised, with some accusing her of attempting to ‘buy votes’ through distribution of maize and fertiliser. And just like Arroyo’s tenure had been, Banda’s government has been the subject of one political scandal after another. Like Arroyo, Banda has been accused of attempting to rig an election, and protecting corrupt colleagues from facing the hand of the law. Like Arroyo, her cash handouts have been criticised as wasteful, and calls of an audit as to the origins of the money she gives away at rallies have been heard far and wide within Malawi. Joyce Banda, like Arroyo has also been criticised for excessive travelling, and just like Arroyo, Joyce Banda has hired a PR company at great expense, to clean up her image, and that of her government.

And all that is even before you get to the ghost companies set up by civil servants – to embezzle funds, allegedly unexplained donations to the president’s foundation, and many other potential woes that can sit comfortably side by side with what the Philippines former president has been accused of.

But in the face of all that, including recently, a very public withdrawal of donor aid by Malawi’s donors – which minimally shows disapproval, Joyce Banda still maintains innocence.

Unlike Arroyo, who apologised (external link – YouTube Video) for speaking to an official of the electoral commission, Joyce Banda has not offered an apology to ordinary Malawians for the harm and devastation that has occurred under her government, especially in relation to the cashgate scandal.

It’s simply just incredible how similar the circumstances can be; the lessons so bountiful, yet political leaders (past and present) just don’t seem to learn.

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