Chikaonda Is Deliberately Misleading The Public On Cashgate-DPP
With all due respect to Prof Chikaonda, we disagree with him and submit that there was no Cashgate in 2005 and he knows it. By Capital Hill Cashgate, he knows that we mean the direct plunder of Malawi tax payer’s money by civil servants and Government or ruling party (Peoples Party) officials. We are talking about specially selected private companies who received millions, even billions of Kwachas from Government for no work done and sharing such monies with authorities in Government and in the ruling party.
There are also the culprits in this saga who have been caught hiding huge sums of money in their cars, houses, and secret bank accounts. We mean the plunder of public resources to the extent of having Government national coffers dry with the consequent inability to buy hospital drugs and supplies, to pay health workers and teachers among other things.
There were absolutely none of these events in 2005 or shortly thereafter. There were no companies which got huge sums of money for no work done and sharing the money with Government authorities. Unless Prof Chikaonda is using a different definition of Cashgate, which he should give us, he is deliberately misleading the Malawi nation and international community by saying that Cashgate started in 2005. We challenge him and have repeatedly challenged anyone else to come up with evidence for Cashgate at that time. The new Democratic Progressive Party would be the first one to deal with any culprits for such Cashgate if they belonged to us and were exposed. But up to now such evidence is not coming from the Police, the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Financial Intelligence Unit, or any other law enforcement authority.
In any case, everyone must remember how shattered the Malawi economy was by the end of the UDF regime in 2004. Prof Chikaonda was Minister of Finance and Reserve Bank Governor during part of that time. These are very key positions in the economy of any country.
The UDF Government could not balance the budget. There was no fiscal discipline. The donor confidence had been lost. Some aid from donors had stopped coming into the country. The economic growth rate had gone down, at times into negative growth rates. That is why the International Monetary Fund (IMF) brought in Expenditure Limits and Cash Budget system in order to help sort out the economic mess. Banks found it difficult to honour Government cheques.
Soon after the DPP took power, essentially in 2004, the economy started to pick up. Donor confidence was restored. The same IMF recommended the removal of those Expenditure Limits, banks were asked to honor Government cheques, Cash budget system was abandoned, and IFMIS was introduced. The DPP Government made these innovations in collaboration with the IMF.
There was fiscal discipline. The economy grew, hitting as high as 9.7% annually at some point. For some time, it was the fastest growing economy in Africa and second to Qatar in the world. We achieved HIPIC status in a very short time. There were drugs in hospitals and we began to have prolonged surplus of food in the country. There were so many other positive attributes to our economy from international experts who knew what they were talking about.
Major infrastructure developments such as Kamphata/Nkhoma Road, Mponela/Ntchisi Road and others were carried out using local resources. Previously, such developments always fully depended on donor funding.
If there was Cashgate in 2005, or shortly thereafter as we know it in the PP’s Government, such achievements could not have been possible at all. These achievements were done under the same Ifmis which is being blamed now. This is a clear indication that no matter how faulty the Ifmis may have been, it is not that faulty system that plundered Cashgate money, it is thieves in Government that did so. It is not the removal of Expenditure Limits, or the requirement for banks to honour Government cheques that stole MK2.6bn from OPC or MK5.7bn from the Ministry of Tourism. It is the state-sponsored looters that did so. Unless the accusers of previous regimes can show us evidence of Cashgate looting directly from Treasury, Ifmis clearly worked for DPP in the sense that there was no Cashgate at that time.
There are many who are supporting President Joyce Banda in her attempts to divert the attention of the public from PP’s Cashgate to DPP and other previous Governments past performances because they have big carrots dangling in front of them. We hope that Prof Chikaonda is not one of those who are seeing such big carrots in front. We respect him. He has too much integrity which he cannot allow to be shattered in these ill-fated Cashgate cover-up schemes.
Dr Jean A Kalilani, MP
Democratic Progressive Party