FREE EXPRESSION (MalawiTalk) – Well, there was nothing unusual in the statement Attorney General Dr Chikosa Silungwe made on Thursday during the launch of Malawi’s Coordinated Criminal Law Enforcement Strategy that will enable several stakeholders to coordinate in the investigation and prosecution of financial and related crimes.
Silungwe said: “We must not applaud clearly dishonest lifestyle. Every person in this country must embrace lifestyle audit. Tisiye kuwombera mmanja anyamata apatawuni; anyamata otakata when clearly the Consolidated Fund is being used to bankroll delusions of grandeur.”
We have heard this before and, for those with sharp minds, would agree that, even during the Bakili Muluzi days, such statements were all over.
What was unusual during the launch, however, is not what Silungwe said; rather, the launch of the enforcement strategy itself.
To me, the launch is a giant step towards fighting graft because, at least for now, we have a clear execution plan in place. This execution plan gives us, the lay people, the tools or reference points needed to appreciate and assess how our government is performing in fighting graft.
Yet at the same time, we are all haunted with the troubling story of how, for years, we have run amok, as a country, celebrating beautiful strategic plans that end up gathering dust just like Silungwe’s hair.
Here we are celebrating the coming into force of a wonderful strategy which, something to smile about, gives the public the right ammunition to appreciate and assess financial crimes in Malawi.
The strategy is opening the eyes and hearts of Malawi to see who is sleeping on duty and who is not. Its telling us, Malawians, one voice: Please don’t sit on the laurels; we have given you the Terms of Reference (TORs).
That is why we should not celebrate the political statement Silungwe made, vilifying us, the locals, for allegedly cheering thieves and fraudsters who defraud public money and swim in grandeur.
Rather, Silungwe—as the Attorney General—should hash up and put the strategy to work. He must start the process of lifestyle audit now and have culprits questioned and face justice!
Otherwise, we have gone so far, as a nation, in clapping for tough political statements.
- Cyril Bini is Editor-at-Large ofHis column will be called “Free Expression”