Blues’ Orators, after the trauma we suffered under former Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Monsieur Lucas Kondowe’s ineptitude; predicting that his successor will perform wonders requires no prophetic powers.
This notwithstanding, I am excited that President Peter Mutharika, in an appointment that is three years overdue, has belatedly elevated Counsel Reyneck Matemba to become the Director General of an ACB we can trust.
Who is Reyneck Matemba? Although not much is known about him, unlike his predecessor he seems to be a professional through and through. Unlike his former boss, seems to be free of political bias and hence Malawians have all the reasons to hope his tenure will see the ACB operating with the integrity they expect of the Bureau.
Before serving as the Deputy Director General for ACB, Matemba worked at the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry as Assistant Chief Legislative Counsel, Administrator General and in the Legal Aid Department now called Legal Aid Bureau.
At his fingertips today lies a massive opportunity to make a mark, create and leave a lasting legacy.
This is his once-in-a-lifetime chance to redeem the Bureau from the bad names it earned while he was number two and to rebuild the respect eroded over the past three years when it was, to all practical intents and purposes, serving as a sanctuary for the corrupt.
Blues’ Orators, this new broom’s ride will be rough. Matemba has to retrieve the Bureau from the dogs to which his predecessor bequeathed the Bureau.
This will not be easy and it is not a task for the fainthearted. His very first arrests and prosecutions will need to send a strong, loud and unambiguous signal to the corrupt saying:
“Hey you corrupt fellas; we are back in business! Change, or languish in jail!”
A strong start is imperative if he is to drive us back onto the road to a Malawi that rewards honesty and hard-work, a Malawi that does not cheer the corrupt on as they loot our heritage, a Malawi we can all be proud of, a Malawi that frowns on corruption and disdains the corrupt.
His appointment being subject to Parliamentary approval, I am confident that if the Public Appointments Committee – in its dubious wisdom deemed it right in 2014 to confirm a hopeless partisan zealot with stated political ambitions; it will give Counsel Matemba a chance to prove his worth.
Every coin, as you know, has two sides.
In this vein, I know fellow Blues’ Orators you are still confused with Counsel Matemba’s bizarre recusal as lead lawyer in the K1.7 billion corruption case of former president Bakili Muluzi.
While lawyers or judges aren’t obliged to publish reasons for recusal, it’s a bit tricky when the person who unaccountably recused himself expects others to be accountable and behave transparently.
In my view therefore, clearing the mist around that controversial recusal would do Counsel Matemba all the good.
What happened? Was he under duress? His former boss perhaps? The Attorney General? The line Minister? Or may be from the powers that be?
Clearing this mist would satisfy not only us, the doubting Thomases, but would earn Matemba and the Bureau a lot of goodwill from the donor community and the legal fraternity without whose moral, technical and financial support the Bureau will get nowhere.
This is in fact critical because his appointment has come at a time when perceptions of corruption in Malawi and of the ACB itself need a huge makeover.
Failure to clear this mist will mean that the Bureau, even under Matemba, will continue being viewed as a para-directorate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Other expectations by the Malawi public are arrests following the K236 billion forensic audit and the 13 files submitted to ACB which were being used in lieu of furniture by the irredeemably incompetent director who – thank goodness – has since vacated the office.
Then there is ESCOM where at some point, the roadblock to investigating clear-cut corruption allegations was erected and manned by none other Lucas Kondowe, the exiting Czar himself.
As if this is not enough, the Leader of Opposition Dr Chakwera recently made scathing allegations about State House interference in the recent bungled procurement of generators that are supposed bring Mutharika’s reign of darkness the luminous quality that was the hallmark of former president Joyce Banda’s two-year stint.
The list of crooks-to-be-immediately-investigated and arrested is agonizingly long and it keeps growing in both high and low places!
Now Blues’ Orators, having learnt from the folly delegating the responsibility of winning critical netball matches to one person; I trust that you will all enlist in the battalion of volunteers from which Counsel Matemba can tap from in his quest to rid Malawi of graft.
There are many ways in which one can serve as the ‘cavalry’ in the fight against corruption in Malawi. The only prerequisite we all need is a paradigm shift.
Look here Blues’ Orators, there was a time when it was wrongly believed that corruption, for Asians, is a cultural problem and hence ‘inevitable’.
But today, take a look at South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.
How did these countries prove the misconception wrong and move on to almost eradicate corruption to the point where holding the high office of presidency does not insulate one from the long arm of the law?
Isn’t Hong Kong in Asia? Isn’t Singapore in Asia and wasn’t South Korea’s president recently ousted and as we speak, is in a cell, undergoing trial?
The hardworking and honest youthful citizenry in these countries – who like here in Malawi were the majority; decided that enough is enough, and that corruption and the corrupt should have no place in their societies.
Each and every citizen joined the fight, some as whistle-blowers and others merely providing the much needed moral support to anti-corruption ‘field-marshals’ like Counsel Matemba, and slowly but surely, the corrupt and corruption were put out of business, pun intended.
The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that Mutharika only mumbles about started flowing into their countries; entrepreneurship and employment soared and the economy of these formerly “poor” countries irreversibly transformed to where they are today.
In short, while we are entitled to our long list of expectations from Counsel Reyneck Matemba, we ALL have roles to play. The starting point is getting rid of the foolish notion that corruption is inevitable.
Corruption, I insist, is not inevitable.
Should the corrupt persist in holding us to ransom; well, there is a new sheriff in town! When Counsel Matemba locks them up, after due process, we should bolster his efforts by patriotically doing the honours of throwing away the keys!