By Zanele NGWIRA, Correspondent:19/10/17
On February 11 2015 there was pomp and fireworks in Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe at the official launch of that country’s Public Sector Reforms.
In attendance were President Mutharika and his Vice President Saulos Chilima who was entrusted with overseeing the reforms. Chilima was given the responsibility because he comes from a background of private sector leadership, his immediate previous job being CEO at Airtel Malawi.
For a few months after the colorful launch the Vice President was seen all over the news with his team of commissioners engaging civil servants private sector, civil society and general public on implementation of the reforms.
Two years later, the reforms are on deathbed and have been taken away from Chilima to the Office of the President. That is all there was about all the pomp.
The main culprit for the failure of the reforms is President Mutharika himself and his government, Chilima inclusive.
There has been no political will by leadership to lead by example in implementing the reforms.
When Malawians are told of austerity by government on the other hand State House has been spending wantonly buying expensive cars for Mutharika and funding his big entourage to United Nations General Assembly.
Then there is an issue of theft of public funds by top gurus both in government and ruling party. Individuals have become overnight billionaires through theft right under the watch of the President himself. He remains helpless on how to deal with his cronies, making him complicit in the plunder.
Just days ago, Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa told Parliament in Lilongwe that over K7 billion ($9 million) has been lost in the past year due to failure by government to implement proper finance management measures. Most of this money ends in the pockets of politicians and senior government officials.
Mutharika and his team are also blamed for failing to tackle the $341 million (K256 billion) theft that happened during the rule of his late brother Bingu and his now three- year rule.
His predecessor Joyce Banda was quick to institute an inquiry plus an audit when $17 million (K13 billion) was stolen by senior government officials and politicians during her two-year rule. London-based Baker Tilly audit firm carried out the task in 2013.
However, despite funding from British and Germany governments Mutharika has failed to initiate a probe in his party’s share of plunder to date, probably for fear of losing political friends and capital.
It is this kind of dilly-dallying and theft by Mutharika’s government that has made the whole reform process a total failure in just under two years.
These are some issues that has made his party unpopular among Malawians. Days ago they were subject to a heavy defeat in by-elections in parliamentary and local government elections.
It is also highly likely that Mutharika will lose the next election slated for May 2019.