Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Corruption: Will Joyce Banda Fire Herself?

News that Malawi female president Joyce Banda dissolved her cabinet spread like bush fire. Banda had to swallow a bitter pill after it came to light that her government was either ignoring or condoning malpractices. It was sleeping on the wheel.
 Banda stole thunder earlier last year, after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika whose courtiers and stooges wanted to stop the then vice president Banda from taking the oath of president as Malawi constitution stipulates. The move by Mutharika’s inner circle was opposed by many in Malawi and abroad. Abhorring such undemocratic move, Malawians threw their support behind Banda believing she’d reverse economic limbo Malawi was in.  The coming of Banda into the big picture was expected to bring breath of fresh air. However, things didn’t work as Malawians expected. After ascending to power, Banda proved to be more a disaster than her predecessor. Instead of addressing the very problems Malawians faced, she embarked on vengeance, fuata nyayo and knockdown policy aiming at punishing Mutharika’s inner circle that’s replaced by her own cronies. She went ahead devaluing Malawi Kwacha to begin with. Thereafter, fissures in Banda regime started to surface after being accused of nepotism and corruption. Things went from bad to worse and corruption became rife.  All of the sudden, the woman who used to convince Malawians that she’s a mother who would care about them became another monster. It as if Malawians were afraid of a lizard to death to end up embracing a gator.
 Again, tongues didn’t stop waging especially for those in the know regarding what has been going on in Malawi.  After firing the cabinet her supporters started singing praises to their heroine for ‘taking’ on the vestiges of corruption little knowing that she was acted on orders from above. Detractors did not jump into praise-singing bandwagon. They are asking: Why taking dissolving the cabinet after being lectured by donor community? Detractors have a point. Recently the EU warned Banda to put her house in order.  Alexander Baum, the Head of EU Malawi mission was quoted as saying, “There is need for a cleanup before we make our disbursement.”  Pressure on Banda was exerted after top finance ministry official, Paul Mphwiyo, who’s seen as an anti-corruption crusader, was shot and wounded last month.
The shooting of Mphwiyo provoke the blow up of many especially anti-graft campaigners who termed it as a move to silence Mphwiyo. Many wondered how Malawi would be ripped off by a few venal officials while the government was just doing nothing. Baum added, “All this massive looting was happening under the nose of auditor general’s office and malpractice was not detected or discovered.” although Baum did not directly implicate the government, his harsh words aimed at sending the message which Banda got and acted on it.
Looking at the mess Malawi is in under a female president, the whole belief that females are less corrupt than men as it has always been drummed in up does not hold water especially in Africa.  The thing is. For Africa females and males are equally corrupt and unpredictable. Refer to the scam involving another female Liberian president whose children are in high offices undeservedly. The situation in Liberia became worse so as to force madam president to fire her sons in order to save her face.
More on Banda, last year her minister of justice who also is attorney general Raphael Kasambara admitted to have spent public money without following proper procedure. He was not fired despite admitting wrong doing. Was Banda waiting for? Did Kasamabara firing need EU’s pressure?  Kasambara’s case is but a drop in the ocean of Banda’s administration regarding graft. Banda was required recently declare her wealth as a step towards combating graft. Sadly though, Banda refused to do so. Can such a person be clean? Leading is always to be in front of others and lead by deeds not mere words.
Again, many are still asking. If Banda seriously aims at dealing with the vestiges of corruption, then when will she fire herself given that she is the core and pillar of corruption in Malawi currently? Ironically, what was drummed as reshuffle wasn’t. Instead, Banda recycled the same kit and caboodle of courtiers.
Source: The African Executive Magazine Oct., 30, 2013.

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