No Holds Barred! Punish Roads Authority corruption and all corruption

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The Malawi Roads Authority lists the following among its core values: ‘Conduct its business in an open, transparent, accountable and competitive manner.’ And yet, according to the news in the last fortnight, transparency and accountability is just a form of sloganeering over there at the Authority. At the core of the Authority’s business is corruption of the worst type.

Trevor Hiwa

Trevor Hiwa

Trevor Hiwa, the Authority’s Chief Executive, is being accused of awarding one of the Authority’s roads maintenance contracts to his own personal company. As reported by the Malawi News, the contract in question is for  the design and the provision of construction supervision services of various roads in the central and southern regions, pegged at US$303,823 or K217 million.

Mr Hiwa, a holder of a Masters Degree in Leadership and Change Management from Leeds Metropolitan University and a Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Malawi, has tried to fend off those accusations, but the more he talks the less he makes sense. The Malawi News says he explained himself in a letter to the Minister of Works, Malsion Ndau, as follows: “Sir, unfortunately I cannot undo my past as this was the company I was working for before the RA and their main area of business and experience is roads. This fact was fully disclosed to the interview panel as well as to the Board of Directors both old and current. They are a bonafide Malawian company and comply with all relevant laws of Malawi. Submitted for your information and direction.”

The explanation sounds nonsensical, of course, because disclosing a relationship to a company to the interviewing panel is no warrant for awarding contracts to that company at all. In corporate governance, a manager must always avoid conflict of interest.

On Monday this week, the Roads Authority’s board of directors met to discuss the case. So far it’s not clear what decision the board came up with, but our country being what it is, much depends on the political will.

We are, after all, witnessing the government’s brazen disregard of the rule of law in the Bakili Muluzi case, in which $11 million of donor money is alleged to have been found stashed to the personal account of the former president. President Peter Mutharika’s government has raped lady justice in broad daylight in this matter when the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s deputy director, Reyneck Matemba, withdrew without warning, claiming to recuse himself ‘for personal reasons.’

We are also witnessing a total lack of interest in getting to the bottom of the K577 billion corruption that spans the Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda presidencies.

Only cases in the K20 billion Cashgate Scandal that took place under Joyce Banda – between 2012 and 2014 – are being actively pursued. Even so, there are sacred cows the arm of the law refuses to touch. For instance, Weekend Nation reported two weeks ago that the Anti-Corruption Bureau is sitting on warrants of arrest of the National Organizing Secretary of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Richard Makondi, and business person Mohammed Kassam of Globe Electronics. The two are being investigated for their role in the K895 million Toyota Malawi deal, alongside former Malawi Defence Force General Henry Odillo, Lieutenant General Clement Kafuwa and former Budget Director, Paul Mphwiyo.

And so when the nation heard news of Mr Hiwa’s alleged disregard of the internal controls which, it must be said, are emphasized in the Leeds master’s programme which he attended, many in social media hoped that the matter will be thoroughly investigated by the authorities and wrongdoing promptly punished.

But maybe that would be asking for too much. In the final analysis, it all depends on how well connected to the ruling party the suspected wrongdoer is. If he is as close as the others who are, clearly, being shielded by the gatekeepers themselves, it is a waste of time hoping for justice in the matter.

This is why I have repeatedly called for the dissolution of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. We cannot continue with this game of make-believe and selective application of justice. If we are going to fight corruption, let’s fight all corruption.

In the middle of this week, the Daily Times, in an editorial, strongly condemned police brutality and excessive use of force to suspects after cops in Ntcheu assaulted Zakaria Malata, 49, to death in a bid to obtain a confession of guilt. The man allegedly stole twelve bags of maize.

This is the tragedy of our country. We hang petty thieves while appointing great ones to public office. We stone to death a person who has stolen a goat, while the ACB shields from prosecution a person who allegedly stole K7 billion. We roll a red carpet for the thieving individuals holding high office, while brutalizing in dingy police cells poor men who are suspected to have stolen a few bags of maize.

This paying of lip-service to the fight against corruption must come to a stop. It’s either we fight all corruption or we issue a carte blanche to everyone to steal as they please. We can’t be allowing some people to be stealing whatever they want while applying the law only to a selected few.

A particularly shameful aspect of the Roads Authority imbroglio is that the money that was being targeted wasn’t even our own. It’s from the World Bank, one of the few institutions still supporting us despite proving our uselessness with regard to managing money. Rather than doing all we can to win their trust, we are shamelessly turning them away.

What wrong did we Malawians do to deserve thieving leaders at all levels like this?

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8 Comments

  1. The same Hiwa is accused of receiving K80million bribe to award contract to Fargo Construction,ACB please investigate!

  2. We must get lid of these corrupt leaders before they get lif of us. Corrupt leaders hav invaded malawi, the entire dpp is full of corrupt pple. Their first intention of coming to power was to steal not to serve. But we domb malawians will again giv them mandate to govern come 2019. We stand on the que the whole day to cast a ballot but when they come in, they steal and eat with their families while we are suffering. We defend them when they are being accused of corruption. Especially our friend from the south pliz stop defending your corrupt leaders. We vote for them so that they can manage our economy and develop the country not to enrich themselves thru stealing and corruption. They shud be satisfied with what they get as salaries and allowances. This country indeed needs to be divided so that thieving leaders must steal from their tribesmen taxes. Lets vote wisely come 2019 malawi can do better without these thieving leaders.

  3. Voto ndi lakuti olo patakonzedwa ma tolgate plazza ndalama zosizingaoneneke komwe azalowela .pakufunika 2019 tisake mulendo wa chizungu azakhale pa utsogoleli wa dziko .enawonse kumbuyo kwa keliyala .

  4. Uve umenewo,madela ambiri ndi osauka chifukwa chakuyipa kwamiseu.wina akadya ndi ana ake ndalama zokozela miseu ndi milatho.ufiti oposa amene wapha albino modzi.tsopano yese amene azipezeka olakwa ku court pa mlandu wa cashgate aziphedwa.tipemphe aphungu atipangile lamuro loti aziphedwa basi ndende yawo kulibe,sizikulilanso kuyenda mbulanda izi.ndende zathu kuzikhala oba mbuzi,nkhuku,dowe ndi olimbilana akazi ndi amuna.fokolo.

  5. No more trusting these pple called politicians,fooling poor pple z their main tact to have access to our taxes,they r all wolves in sheep’s skin(thieves).