Hard work in opposite direction
Esteemed Raw Stuffers, Malawians have always been known as a hard working people, civil and trustworthy characters.
In fact, the late old man from Kasungu, aNgwazi original, kept repeating this during his reign; boasting that wherever Malawians went in the Federation or down south, they were preferred labour because of this unique attribute.
To a large extent, this remains valid till today. In fact, we can safely add that Malawian labour, in comparative terms with other Sadc or African countries, is relatively well educated and trained. One just has to see the hunger for knowledge, professionalism and quality as well as the growing numbers in our colleges and technical schools, both private and public, to know that Malawians are always on the self- improvement curve.
The only problem, as we said the other week, is lack of jobs or business opportunities. There is also lack of implementation and Executive will at the top. People just talk and talk and talk and do nothing.
But this is a subject for yet another day.
However, what bothers some of us in the Raw Stuffing community is an emerging negative culture among some fellows, especially in the Civil Service and some sections of the private sector: Kub’bha! Theft. Corruption. Fraud. Kwib’ha! Kusolola. Unkhungu. Fiscal dishonesty. ‘Eating.’
Stories coming from Capital Hill of late are not inspiring. Even if some of them are mere allegations, subject to investigation and conclusion, there is a feeling something is wrong somewhere.
At first, it was the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Fahad Assani who went on record saying at least 30 percent of the country’s resources go down the drain through fraud and corruption at Capital Hill and government offices throughout the country. Some senior government officials also later testified to the same.
There is the story from the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST), where improper procurement methods are being alleged. We are yet to hear the end of that story.
The other day, it was rot from the Auditor General’s office, where financial shortcuts were reportedly rampant, with irregular payments and in some cases without due documentation. The end result? Some folks were eating.
Last week, at a symposium in the Capital, a veteran principal secretary (PS) confided in some Raw Stuffers that as a top most dog in a ministry, one has to be careful because some juniors lay traps for you—to join them in their fiscal shortcuts.
Said the PS: “Sometimes they come to you with documents showing that you are travelling, say, to Mzuzu. They would put 10 days for you when, in fact, you will only be there for a day or two or have no business there at all.
“If you sign, they will go back screaming among themselves, saying: zadyera! [He has picked the bait, let’s go on rampage].”
Esteemed Raw Stuffers, the good, patriotic PS also disclosed that when one works seriously, from 7.30am to 5pm and follows up issues and tasks, that controlling officer is shunned, not only by his/her juniors, but also senior colleagues in the Capital, because he/she is exposing the gaps in the system.
Then later, a junior public service ‘dog’ also made an interesting fiscal disclosure, that when some private sector businesses send quotations to some government departments, they attach K500 000 cash envelopes.
Said the fellow: “The idea is that you not only get the quotation approved but also have it fast-tracked. You see, that is how people are eating and building houses in the Capital. Otherwise, how do you expect some civil servants to be surviving on their meagre take-home pay?”
Esteemed Raw Stuffers, somehow, one is now convinced the donors, who are still insisting on accountability and robust fight against corruption, for example, through the appointment of the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) leadership, have a valid point.
We would add that even when appointed, the ACB boss and senior management should not pander to the whims of the appointing authority, as the late Professor Moya expected of one Gustav Kaliwo.
Esteemed Raw Stuffers, there is also the story from our High Commission in South Africa, where it is alleged phony invoices were generated and payments made. Again, there is a probe in place. Not much can be said yet, apart from noting that anthu amalimba mtima! [Malawians can be hardworking and courageous, but in the opposite direction].
Mwanangwa Khumbo Kachali has done the right thing: to apologise for his wayward Karonga remarks. That is the most honourable thing to do. But, as they say, falling is not an issue, but how a man rises from the fall. The lessons are what matters.