With developments emerging from the cash-gate scandal and the attempt by government to treat the crisis as ‘break through’ what would have happened if donors were non-existent in Malawi?  Just imagine of what would have happened to the subsequent investigations when a wanted suspect is not arrested but surrenders himself to the Police in the company of his attorney? What message does that development inform visitors and ordinary citizens? It is obvious the scandal should have been covered up. Another palpable evidence was when the Hon Speaker refused debate in plenary on the Report by PAC on the pretext it was representative of the whole house. Since when did a sub-committee’s report become a representative report to the plenary that had sanctioned it? The good thing is that sub-committee  reports do not only exist in parliament buildings even professional Board meetings deploy sub-committees. Therefore, what the Hon Speaker was trying to introduce in Parliament was a new thing.

 

The answer to the captioned question is; ‘democracy should have committed suicide.’  And there is evidence from attempt by the administration in government and its political apparatus that the strategy was to offer superficial treatment to the scandal until after the Tripartite Elections on 20th May, 2014. The political strategy  was aimed at exploiting the ignorance of an illiterate population .No wonder, the Chief Secretary shamelessly described the arrests of junior officers connected to the scandal as ‘ an administrative break through’ and not the shooting of Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo. The contradictory approach to the two mutually connected incidences; happening one after the other is evidence of deployment of deceptive strategies.

 

I like what the British High Commissioner, His Excellency Michael Nevin was quoted as having said in the Sunday Times of 10th November;’ the issue is about making sure that nothing is withheld in terms of that which may prevent the truth from coming out’. By offering differential treatment to the two mutually exclusive incidences the attempt was repression of the truth. This is one of the strategies that has saved political leaders in Malawi- diversion of attention. However, High Commissioner Nevin went on;’ then you can rest assured that we certainly want to ensure that investigations go where they need to go and that action is taken’. What he stated explains  the gist of the punitive decision by the international community. We must support the punitive decision although it will have painful consequences to the wider public. Unless, the truth is exposed, corruption and criminality will get worse in Malawi. It is difficult to understand the appeal through a Press Release by the Evangelical Association of Malawi in which it is appealing for prayers. Is it not that the call for prayers is premature at this point in time? It is imperative to remind the association not to forget that forgiveness of sins must start before repentance. There is need for one to take responsibility for the sin. Has the  Joyce Banda administration accepted responsibility for the crisis that has surfaced during her watch to the religious association?

 

Unlike dictatorship, democracy means leaders get their mandate to lead from ordinary citizens. Has the Joyce Banda administration revealed the scandal to citizens living in rural areas when they visit those areas? If they are keeping quiet about the scandal, how then would God listen to the prayers? Election is a social contract between citizens and their elected leaders. Based on the conduct and behaviour of our elected representatives, it is doubtful if they recognise that power to continue ruling comes from the citizens not only the Constitution. This explains why some political commentators believe underdevelopment threatens democracy. They argue that there is a correlation between underdevelopment and the effective operationalzation of democracy. In other words, democracy in Malawi  is under threat because of poverty. This explains why some political leaders over use the presentation of cash, maize and cheap housing units to the rural poor as a tool for attracting votes from unsuspecting citizens.

 

The truth is that in an underdeveloped country like Malawi, elected leaders do not respect citizens. They only fear donors. To our leaders, winning an elections is an end in itself, it is a stepping stone for easy access to public funds. Until today public announcements from the government refer to Malawian citizens as ‘the general public’. How could elected leaders allow public servants to refer to citizens who vote for them to win an election call them; ’general public’ as if the government were a private business?. Then  why do the elected leaders not direct the civil servants to stop hurling that insult? This is why the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund emphasise on governance. Governance is the institution of authority in a democratic country. MacLachlan et,al argue that an  indicator for political underdevelopment is the apparent disconnect between those in elected positions and citizens. The disconnect is when  public broadcasters are mean when informing citizens about the theft of large amounts of public funds. When the attitude by  elected leaders is business as usual. No doubt fellow readers can now understand why the donor group CABS suspended donor inflows into our country. .Without implementing the punitive action on the inflow of donor money, our elected leaders would have continued with their negligent attitude and the truth should not have been known.  The action by the CABS group is in our interest aimed at protecting our democracy.

 

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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