What has People's Party learnt from the MRA saga?
As one would expect it, the MRA saga will soon die a natural death and be forgotten. Before you know it, it will be business as usual. As they say, today's news is tomorrow's history.
The committee of inquiry submitted its findings and Honourable Ken Lipenga was cleared of any wrong doing. That is the end of the story. But is that really the logical end of the story?
Listening to the honourable members that spoke, in protest, in that August house, there is no doubt that many were not convinced with the outcome of the findings. Many would also agree that the closure of the issue still leaves many unanswered questions.
What next? That is probably the question lingering in most people's minds. At law, ignorance is no defense and the buck must stop at someone. That someone, if I am not wrong, in the case of a government ministry is the Minister responsible.
In this particular case, the buck should have stopped with the Minister of Finance, Ken Lipenga. He may not have known that his subordinates were playing hotch potch with taxpayers' money but he should have either prevented it from happening or he should have caught and exposed the errant subordinates.
The report says Ken Lipenga did not do anything wrong but his subordinates did some stuff behind his back. Well.. I say, he did not do something right. He was supposed to prevent this mischief from happening, or noticed it when it happened and was supposed to take to task the perpetrators and sadly, he didn't. That in itself is a problem.
Now, K30 billion is no small change. It doesn't just show up on your revenue without any explanation as to where it has come from and for what purpose. It is a material sum even by government standards.
The illegal borrowing of money from banks by MRA is just one issue that came to light. If the technocrats under Lipenga were as powerful and cunning as we are made to believe they were, I would be very surprised if this is the only crime they committed.
What I am saying is that the subordinates must have known that they could play hide and seek with the national coffers and that the minister would not even suspect it. I would like to think that the MRA saga is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a rot in that ministry.
Shouldn't the PP government be turning the tables in finance ministry upside down and combing through every record to ascertain that all is well and there are no further surprises?
I suspect there was a free for all at the ministry of finance and someone needs to assure Malawians that this has changed and that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that never again shall such a thing happen. I doubt that this will happen with the current minister still stationed there.
I understand that some key officials have been moved from the ministry but who says those were the only crafty ones? Who says that as they went about doing their crafty stuff up there, their own subordinates down under were also not copying those same tricks at their level.
What has been done is done but what then have we learnt from this shameful act as a nation? This happened during the DPP government and what has the PP learnt that would make them wiser for something like this not to happen to them.
I think the PP has learnt nothing. Sorry if this sounds out of turn. If they had learnt something, they would have changed the game and placed ministers where they would utilize their skills to provide leadership and oversight.
Firstly, I do not understand our presidents why they insist on appointing Ministers to ministries that they are ill equipped for. I have this nagging feeling that Lipenga would have been a tough customer to fool either in Education or in Information both disciplines which he knows as the back of his hand.
The last government had a quantity surveyor for a Minister of Justice and a journalist/educationist for a finance minister. Guess what? The PP government is no better.
It has a quantity surveyor for a foreign affairs minister and the same journalist/educationist in finance and that is why I am saying they have learnt absolutely nothing.
I know the PP has already broken all records as a trigger happy party removing people willy-nilly, some who taxpayers must continue to pay until their retirement when they turn 60, so I am not suggesting for a moment that the appointing authority should fire the said ministers.
All I am saying is that they should move them to ministries where they would add value with their knowledge and expertise for crying out loud. Otherwise, we should not be surprised when something like the MRA saga or worse happens.
I have learnt a few things myself about this whole MRA saga and let me freely share with you dear readers.
- Firstly, I have learnt that no matter how well meaning it may be done, it is wrong to put a minister in a ministry which does not correspond to their area of expertise or experience. (I don't care if national coach Kinna Phiri has the prerogative to choose a Flames line up but, hell, he will not feature Joseph Kamwendo as a goalkeeper. I will tell him to jump into the lake)
- I have learnt that Ministers should learn to turn down some appointments if they feel that they may be challenged to manage a certain portfolio, or at least negotiate for a different portfolio, rather than just to accept any appointment and soil their CVs in the process.
- I have learnt that it is a bad idea to ask cabinet ministers to investigate a fellow minister because no matter how objectively they may do their work, the public will always view it with jaundiced eyes and suspicion that they could cover up for each other.
- I have learnt that when the president says that a particular report is ready and it was waiting for her to announce the results, then she should do so. (Some will say a vice president belongs to the presidency).
- I have learnt that if you are placed in a position where your subordinates are more powerful and cunning that they could mess up and get you in trouble, you need to run for cover.
Finally, I have learnt that as Malawians we spend too much time treating symptoms while ignoring the cause. As a result we never get to the root of the problem and are unable to solve any problem once and for all. What do you think?