New cases of corruption, fraud and theft on the rise under Tonse Alliance Government—HRDC

Chakwera in Egypt

* Recently, there have been revelations of a dirty mess of the country’s flagship Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP)
* Where K750 million was paid to a butchery in the UK. About K30 billion is alleged to have been misappropriated

By Duncan Mlanjira

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), says the Tonse Alliance Government
“has presided over an astonishing heist of public funds [and] to the annoyance of citizens, the First Citizen is disturbingly soft on corruption, fraud and public theft”.

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This contained in the statement issued on Tuesday that has warned President Lazarus Chakwera that if his administration does not reboot the ailing economic, it is going to organise countrywide protests on December 7.

“Recently, there have been revelations of a dirty mess of the country’s flagship Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) where K750 million was paid to a butchery in the UK,” says the statement from HRDC national coordinator, Gift Trapence and his management team.

“About K30 billion is alleged to have been misappropriated. What is more worrying is that rains have already started falling, especially in the southern parts of the country and due to government’s inefficiency, no fertilizers have been procured for the programme.

“This government is surely manufacturing hunger that will hurt poor innocent Malawians. Before this matter has been resolved, another shameful scandal was reported where K112.5 million worth of maize belonging to NFRA was stolen.

“This is not withstanding a myriad of unresolved corruption and theft scandals, including the K17 billion CoVID-19 funds.

“We expect the President to act and make sure that the people who are looting public resources are brought to account.”

Demonstrations against corruption

The civil society organisation further says Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance Government “have displayed a lack of effective and efficient leadership in dealing with governance issues” and that “this is manifested by a lack of action on emerging challenges by mandated institutional bodies such as the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA), the Inspector General of Police, Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Office of the President & Cabinet (OPC), among others.

“It is evident from the inefficiency of these institutions that there is political interference that is hindering their independence.

“For instance, the whole fuel problem in the country is a result of inefficiencies at NOCMA but President Chakwera and his government seem to give a blind eye to this problem.

“If there was political will to solve the fuel crisis in the country, the President would have fired the NOCMA bosses as well as other officials who are undermining his government.”

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Chakwera is also accused of keeping under wraps a report on Public Service Reform Commission, which he instituted and was commissioned on Vice-President Saulos Chilima.

The President is reminded that in 2019 to 2020, HRDC led Malawians to defend the democracy and the very future of the country, saying “it was nothing personal against the previous regime”.

“Malawians elected you, Mr President not because of your name but because they believed your words and promise to improve their lives by doing thing differently and better than the previous regime.

“Today, Malawians are not impressed with your performance. Malawians employed you as a driver because you told them you know how to drive and can drive better than our previous driver.

“However, just like the previous regime, this Presidency is reactive to issues and is not strategic in resolving challenges facing this country.

“Malawians don’t expect the President to go to work because of public pressure or until social media or mainstream media says something,” said the statement, adding that “leadership needs to be strategic and should be able to visualize and forecast on logical trajectory of issues ahead of time and not wait until things get bad”.

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“Malawians voted for you as President. Malawians did not vote for any of the Ministers into State House. The President is the one who is accountable to Malawians.

“The President has to rise to his position and be a leader. It is not too late to press the reset button and save your legacy Mr President. Malawians are suffering.

“We believe that all these problems point to President Chakwera’s slow indecision making because at the end of the day, the buck stops with him.

“If he feels that his ministers and government officials are not serving his agenda well, only he has the prerogative to fire and hire new officials.

“Although he has confessed and complained that some of his ministers and government officers have not lived up to his expectations, the fact that he has not reshuffled his cabinet or fired underperforming officers to date points to a problem with President Chakwera’s leadership.”

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Thus HRDC issuing seven demands that in rebooting the system:
1. The President should fire the underperforming Ministers and officers and hire people that will help him deliver his agenda;
2. The government must fix the fuel problem within 21 days, saying no more fuel queues beyond November 29;
3. Chakwera should, within 21 days, spell out concrete measures for addressing the AIP chaos with concrete timelines of when and how this will be achieved;
4. Government should fire NOCMA acting chief executive officer Hellen Buluma because she has been presiding over the fuel crisis;
5. The President should give a directive stopping senior government officials, including Cabinet Ministers and himself, from all non-essential travelling both within the country and internationally; and
6. Chakwera must direct law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute all suspected culprits involved in this year’s AIP mess.

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