* To this day, there is rampant suspected corruption and abuse of public resources
* As well as gapping loopholes in public financial systems that have resulted in the loss of Billions of public funds
* The gulf between the rhetoric and the reality of the levels of suspected corruption is like day and night
By Duncan Mlanjira
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says President Lazarus Chakwera that in his early major campaign speeches, he had vowed “to disinfect Malawi to remove the stench of corruption and fraud” and the civil society organisation now reminds the Malawi leader that these “evil twins are [still] largely responsible for Malawi’s retarded development”.
HRDC says this in its scathing attack on Chakwera’s Tonse Alliance administration under the topic of corruption and fraud, saying “the gulf between the rhetoric and the reality of the levels of suspected corruption is like day and night”.
“The ACB report on businessperson Zuneth Sattar’s report has further dented the image of the Tonse Alliance, which came to power on the higher moral ground of ending corruption,” says the statement issued today, June 23 by national chairperson, Gift Trapence and his executive committee.
“To this day, there is rampant suspected corruption, abuse of public resources as well as gapping loopholes in public financial systems that have resulted in the loss of Billions of public funds.
• The Tonse Administration has witnessed over one large-scale heist in which a large chunk of the K6.2 billion that was allocated to the fight against CoVID-19 was allegedly abused with little action taken against most of those involved.
• The Administration has failed to audit the K17.2 billion of taxpayers’ money and more than K300 billion in CoVID-19 donor aid despite promising to do so.
“Actually, a recent audit by the National Audit Office indicates that K3.5 billion of the K17.2 billion is unaccounted for. Yet, two months after this report was issued, no one has been taken to task and no arrests have been effected. It is business as usual.
“In the last two years that the Tonse Administraiton has been in power, the political leadership has boasted about increased funding to ACB, yet the institution has persistently complained of delays in funding disbursements, which have weakened their operations.”
HRDC further reminds Chakwera that his administration has also “bragged about the planned financial crimes court, yet two years down the line the much-touted courts are nowhere to be seen”.
“It also sad to note that the Administration has failed to fully utilise action plans and recommendations proposed by various experts on ending corruption.
“Since Cashgate, there have been numerous conferences on ending corruption, all of which have come up with recommendations and action plans on addressing corruption and yet the Tonse Administration has not tapped into such reports to enhance the fight against corruption.”
On the much-touted ‘1 Million Jobs and NEEF Loans’, HRDC says two years on, “there is no evidence that the Tonse Alliance administration has created such one million jobs as promised Malawians within 12 months”.
“Moreover, the government has not even issued a plan for job creation, making the promise the biggest campaign hoax of all time. Even the disbursement of loans to women and youths and other micro- entrepreneurs under the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) remains murky as political interference rears its ugly head once again and funding to the initiative only goes in drips, leaving many young men and women disappointed.
“We so believe that these loans, if administered properly, will help create new SMEs and more middle income earners which are crucial for the survival of our economy.”
On public sector reforms, Trapence and company say despite all the zeal and fanfare that surrounded the initiative, “the programme seems to have resulted in a stillbirth as President Chakwera seems unwilling to implement the recommendations that we presented to him by Vice-President Saulos Chilima and his team”.
“What is also disheartening is that, despite funding the exercise, the nation will never know the contents of the Public Sector Reforms report nor its recommendation as the President has decided to keep the document close to his chest.
“As such, we are still at where the point of departure when this process started — the public sector is still in disarray and still performing below par despite all the promises and the efforts spent in trying to correct the problem.
“This is despite the President acknowledging from the onset that the public sector is the heart of government and a demotivated public sector will sabotage the leadership.
HRDC continue to maintain that the government needs to start doing things the right way by getting rid of dead wood within its ranks and file which is stifling progress.
“The President must reshuffle his team and bring people who are capable rather than roping in friends and cronies that have self-interests rather than that of the country.
“We call upon the Administration to listen to the cries of its citizens who are heavily burdened by poor economic policies that are directly resulting in the rising cost of living.”
HRDC also reminded Chakwera of the background that ushered him into power two years ago, following the historic court-ordered fresh presidential election.
“The elections only happened thanks to a professional and fiercely independent Judiciary; the personal sacrifices of certain individuals and groups and, most importantly, the revolutionary spirit that coursed through the hearts and souls of Malawians.
“A citizenry that was feed-up with corruption, nepotism, executive arrogance, governance decay, human rights abuses, economic stagnation and deteriorating standards in public service delivery, especially in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation.
“Two years later, while the Tonse Administration has fulfilled some of the promises made during the campaign, the administration has failed to live up to the expectations of Malawians with visible signs of economic misdirection, ever-rising unemployment and cost of essential goods resulting in inflation that has left Malawians poorer than they were when we started this Tonse journey to Canaan.
Thus HRDC — which played a pivotal role to oust the DPP-led government — issuing the scathing statement to “underline the major areas that the Tonse Government must work on if it is to retain its legitimacy to govern”.