“As a country, we are too comfortable with corruption, and my vision is to break that.” – Martha Chizuma
Horace, in his ode titled “Ad Romanos” says: “Quid non damnosa dies imminuit? Aetas parentum pejor avis tulit nos nequiores, mox daturos vitiosiorem progeniem”.
Translated, first, he asks, “Is there anything that disastrous times do not obliterate?” Then responds: “The age of our parents, more degenerate than that of our grandfathers, made us even more worthless, and we will give birth to a still more vicious progeny!”
Grumbling thus about us will be our children and grandchildren. Lamenting that because of your and my high tolerance for corrupt and mediocre leaders, they are born doomed.
Hence, their inheriting a bankrupt nation where they are homeless because we sold everything for a song to thieves and strangers, condemning future generations to eke a slave-like living in their own homeland, a land devoid of the environmental beauty and natural resources it once possessed.
Where should I start?
“Even a monkey,” writes Abhijit Naskar, “can win an election if it exudes enough charisma. But, that won’t make the monkey a conscientious leader of a people.”
When you deeply consider this statement, you quickly realise that it so resonates that Naskar might have been talking about our political leaders in Malawi.
This was evident this week, in two different fora: in Parliament and in the High Court.
You know that current President Lazarus Chakwera-led administration won the elections by promising transformational leadership.
The economic dimension of the transformation, as per President Chakwera, was to be funded by the billions of public funds and resources which unscrupulous politicians and their private sector puppet-masters were looting with the generous assistance of civil servants.
Chakwera promised that he would, from day one, stop the looting and use the resources saved to transform Malawi into a country where milk and honey will flow and overflow everyone’s cup.
Among other “strategies”, if that word is appropriate, he would adequately resource and free our hitherto toothless bulldog: the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Now, if truth be told, Chakwera indeed resourced the ACB. For a couple of months, it seemed to be ticking. Until someone in Chakwera’s government “neglected”, for whatever reasons, to kickstart recruitment of Mr Reyneck Matemba, the former ACB Director-General’s successor.
Once this culprit awoke from his/her slumber, the advert was floated, interviews conducted, and a name submitted to the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee (PAC).
For all patriotic Malawians with zero skeletons rattling in cupboards, the person to be confirmed by Parliament, Ms Martha Chizuma, is God-sent.
Chizuma is a Malawian on a mission. After a record-breaking stellar performance as Ombudsman, she set her sights on making the corrupt uncomfortable. When the advert for ACB boss was flighted, she applied and made the shortlist. Attended the interviews. Passed with flying colours. She was picked, and her name forwarded to PAC for confirmation.
I repeat confirmation.
Interviews were already done. She excelled them with flying colours.
After about two hours of interacting with her, the motley of parliamentarians who comprise PAC “discovered” that:
- a) despite her unprecedented performance as Ombudsman and years as a magistrate before that,
- b) contrary to the high scores she got in the Interview, and
- c) oblivious to the fact that as we speak, there is no one more qualified for the post of ACB boss in Malawi;
she is “unfit” for the job.
Remember the quote I borrowed from Naskar, which implies that winning elections does not make an incompetent person “a conscientious leader of a people”? Those unpatriotic people, in and outside PAC, learned and unlearned, trying to bring Chizuma down fit the bill.
Now, let’s leave Parliament for a while and head to the High Court where Thomson Mpinganjira started testifying in his infamous judges’ bribery case.
The long and short of what transpired is that Mpinganjira is – putting it figuratively – shooting at everything in sight. After all, don’t they say all is fair in love and war?
He first trained his guns on the presiding Judge, High Court Judges Dorothy DeGabrielle and Sylvester Kalembera.
Then for a while, he had the prosecutor, Reyneck Matemba Esq, in his sights. He poked, probed and provoked. After observing that the fish in these directions were not biting, he quit the ‘general-purpose machine gun (GPMG)’ strategy and escalated the fight.
In a John Rambo-style, he wangled a ‘grenade’ launcher and unleashed in the direction of the principal witnesses to his attempted bribery viz. Justice Healey Potani and Judge Mike Tembo.
Taking no prisoner, he then ambushed Justice Lovemore Chikopa, Judge Redson Kapindu and Judge Dingiswayo Madise, ‘spilling’ in the process the beans vis-à-vis their respective preferences in bribe-finagling approaches.
Warm-up done, next, like a man possessed, he threw all banking privacy ethics to the dogs.
Armed with an inter-presidential ballistic missile launcher, he launched a tirade – yet to be confirmed or refuted as with the judges’ allegations – that former presidents Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika and current president and vice president Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima, respectively, much like the “njala bwana” boys and girls in town, fight over crumbs in his backyard.
- Lazarus Chakwera netted K94 million (donations);
- Saulos Chilima obtained unspecified millions in donations and K350 million loans;
- Joyce Banda scavenged K40 million grants; and
- Mutharika hit the jackpot. K945 million.
Served for dessert were late Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa and Director of State Residences Prince Kapondamgaga. These hombres dangled running mate positions in DPP and MCP, respectively.
Can you smell the stink emanating from this rubbish?
When Martha Chizuma was saying that “as a country, we are too comfortable with corruption”, she probably had not heard Mpinganjira’s confessions which, if anything, show that corruption knows no boundary and is much worse.
Back to Parliament, the behaviour and scorecards of some PAC members stink. This suggests there is more than meets the eye in their dissing of Chizuma and lends weight to the public outcry and demand for:
1) President Chakwera to resubmit Chizuma’s name to Parliament, and that
2) Future confirmations are live broadcast for Malawians for maximum transparency and accountability.
Should Chakwera opt to be a non-conscientious leader and seek pretexts for not pursuing this action, the message Malawians will get is that his soul, allegiance, and loyalty; all belong to the likes of Mpinganjira and other puppet masters yet to be unmasked.
Now that we know and now that Chakwera, Chilima, Mutharika and Mrs Banda know that we now know; they should know that we now know where the rot starts.
Change! Now! Or be changed!
We cannot afford leaders that are too cosy with corruption.
For Chrissakes, give us our Martha Chizuma ASAP. Now!