Corruption, plunder of government resources is a rot that goes deeper than COVID-19 funds—Chakwera

Chakwera has delegated Chilima to review three rotten systems in government

* System of allowances, procurement, civil servant’s employment, contracts

* Contracts are cleverly designed to facilitate waste, abuse and theft

* Over the past 27 years, the government system has been rigged with bad or old laws

By Duncan Mlanjira

After announcing stiff decisions in his national address on Sunday that he has effected following the furore that surrounds the plunder of the K6.2 billion COVID-19 funds, President Lazarus Chakwera said he now has an even bigger problem that he must address — to clean up some of system in government.


He said: “We all know that the rot we have all expressed outrage about goes deeper than COVID-19 funds. If we are going to root out the problem of waste, abuse, and theft of public resources, we must admit that these are behaviors that have poisoned our values as a nation and have corroded our entire government system.

“In fact, over the past 27 years, the government system has been rigged with bad or old laws, procedures, policies, and contracts that are cleverly designed to not only facilitate waste, abuse, and theft, but to also protect those who engage in these acts from being fired or prosecuted.”

He said there are three government systems through which this behavior is perpetuated — “the system of allowances, the system of procurement, and the system of civil servant’s employment contracts which are used by system insiders to loot with impunity”.

The culture of allowances

He reminded the nation that he spoke about this looting scheme in the government system in a national address on July 25th, 2020, less than a month after he took office.

In that speech, Chakwera had said: “there is no Government Ministry, Department, or Agency where the culture of impunity for wastage, misappropriation, and theft is not entrenched. And so we cannot afford to deal with corruption selectively by focusing on the tip of the iceberg.

He had further said: “It is the whole system that is corrupt and therefore it is the whole system we must clean up.”

Today, Chakwera says to clean up the system as a whole, there is need to conduct a comprehensive review and overhaul of the three systems of allowances, procurement and employment contracts.

Coronavirus alert

He announced that he has delegated the Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, in his capacity as Minister of Public Sector Reforms, together with a special Taskforce he will form to begin and prioritize a review of these three government systems and submit recommendations within three months.

“The recommendations must include any legislative changes we must make in our laws at one of the sittings of Parliament this year so that our laws protect the interests and resources of the public, not the rubble of public servants who use broken systems to loot and use bad laws and contracts to keep their jobs in the system and keep looting.

Coronavirus alert

“The recommendations must also include a restructuring of the civil service to be more efficient and of civil servants’ conditions of service so that the good people in the system are well supported and not able to use poor pay as an excuse for wasting, abusing, and stealing public resources.

“This systemic review and overhaul will be resisted by so many who are benefiting from the looting, including greedy politicians from all our political parties, greedy businesses from the private sector, and greedy civil servants they partner with inside the machinery.

“But it is a battle they will not win. They will not win because you, the Malawian people, put me here to bring this kind of radical change, and whether anyone likes it or not, change has come,” he said.

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