Now it makes sense that past leaders did not dare to pursue zero tolerance on graft. The fight against corruption is the lonely adventure because the road towards leading to a corrupt free country is less travelled. It is the lonely road because in the quest to root out the vice, you are bound to be left alone.
As someone once said that if you want to be a good leader, at some point you are going to be misunderstood even by your own people.
When President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera was waging the war against corruption he was not under any illusion that the war will be easily won. And at this point I am beginning to understand the importance of the solemn oath of office taken by the Presidents especially when they say “So help me God”. In the words of Barack Obama the road ahead is always rough and frustrating.
The difficulties that President Chakwera finds himself in is that there are people in his government who have become rich through corruption. Since they survived years without being caught they think by being close to the President they will still be protected. Ordinarily, you would not expect these people to support President Chakwera’s anti-graft drive. It is people like these who find President Chakwera’s relentless fight against corruption annoying and they would do anything to frustrate the efforts.
President Chakwera’s zeal to fight graft derives from the realization that its only few people in the country who enjoy the wealth supposed to benefit all. Speaking at the development rally in Mchinji on 7 May this year, President Chakwera said corruption is one reason poverty has been on the rise in this country. He said while corruption enriches a few people, it impoverishes many.
This is the reason the Malawi leader has been relentless in the fight against corruption from the first day he became the President but as law abiding citizen who also believes in the rule of law and separation of power, Chakwera has been patient while waiting for the course of natural justice for those suspected to have involved in corruption. These people include his Vice President Saulos Chilima who is the number one suspect on Zunneth Sattar’s list by the British National Intelligence Authority (NCA) which was later confirmed by Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau. This incident changed everything and President Chakwera was left with no choice but to take away the powers he shares to the Vice President for him to be investigated without interference.
This was the defining moment in the fight against corruption as the President lived to his word that he will not shield anyone no matter how close they are to him or the position they have in the society. It was also the defining moment because like in the adage “shake the grass to see the snake”, president Chakwera’s decision showed that his deputy did not share his dream of a corrupt free Malawi as he went on assault against his boss.
True to the saying that in politics nothing happens by accident, following the announcement to withhold delegated powers to the Vic President, some unprecedented developments have unfolded which suggest that the Vice President knew that the fortieth day was coming.
It appears that Chilima had the script already prepared and it was time to be put into action. Before long the Vice President started blackmailing President Chakwera. It all started on that flopped national address. Personally, I condensed the whole address into two talking points thus: proposing for the removal of the immunity of the President so that he should stand trial in case of any offense and instigating for an early election in the case the Tonse Alliance collapses. The two messages were designed to discredit President Chakwera unfortunately his calls lacked popular approval as the issues died down in a matter of days
After the two calls did not materialize into what he wished, the Vice President turned to plan B on his script that is turning to journalists to start the smearing campaign against President Chakwera, the obvious one being the newly established Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ). In its lack of sensitivity, PIJ decided to sacrifice their fledging career by accepting to fight Chilima’s battle’s against President Chakwera.
Even after the NCA and the ACB did not mention President Chakwera in their reports, PIJ was tried so hard to twist the tale and convince Malawians that President Chakwera was involved in the Sattar’s bribery case. This was regardless of the NCA which is the credible source of the Sattar case had already indicated in court filings that President Chakwera was not part of the corrupt activities.
PIJ worked overtime to look for something in the NCA report which would link President Chakwera’s name to Sattar just to make their story relevant. They quoted the line which says: “the covert searches of his office premises established that Sattar is in possession of internal government documents relating to these contracts which should not be held by anyone outside of the Malawi government. It is not yet known how Sattar came to be in the possession of these documets, but the nature of them means his acquisition must have been facilitated by someone in the procurement process.”
In this statement there is nothing suggesting that President Chakwera influenced the awarding of the contract as PIJ wants Malawians to believe
In its quest to link President Chakwera to Sattar’s case and enrich their fake narrative, PIJ turned to one of the letters which is said to be correspondence between President Chakwera and MDF Commander Vincent Nundwe. What PIJ forgot was that when the NCA was publishing their report they had already seen the letter in question but found nothing substantial in it that is why they did not bother to include President Chakwera and MDF Commander Vincent Nundwe as among those who benefitted from Sattar. Ironically even PIJ acknowledged that the two are not “named in either ACB or NCA corruption investigation.”
Like many Malawians, I found PIJ’S latest edition lacking substance. If anything they have done themselves injustice for communicating nothing to Malawians. If you write something and people are asking what you want to communicate it means there is nonsense in what you have written. This is what PIJ has done this time as people have found it difficult to make sense of what they wanted to say.
However, this should not be surprising, the good journalists at PIJ have forgotten and thrown caution to the wind as they have opted to serve the interest of their pay master.
I believe in coincidence as others do, but I do not believe that what happened on Tuesday was a coincidence. The story started circulating immediately after President Chakwera has officially commissioned the commencement of the M1 Road project which will stretch from Lumbadzi to Chiweta. This was the subject which dominated conversations in the public domain but when the story came out the conversation changed from the road project to the PIJ story.
It is clear that the Vice President is dragging President Chakwera in his corruption scandal so that he goes down with him. In the event that he does not succeed, which is likely, Chilima would have succeeded discrediting President Chakwera’s fight against corruption. But in all this pity PIJ for being used by Chilima, the substandard work they have produced does not reflect well on the fledging publication.