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Malawi’s Mutharika in the blame game

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By John K Black

His Excellency, the State President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has recently blamed donors and the JBanda administration on BBC radio for the financial trouble his government is in (and consequently the whole population). Predictably, the donors have now released a statement outlining some of the financial challenges the government is not addressing properly, and it is not encouraging.

After 50 years of independence we are still not capable of basic financial management. This chases donors away from government structures, but they are still supporting us big time. Donors are putting money in government projects all over the place. For instance: over 90% of the health system is donor funded, and they are putting 12 billion kwacha on top of that.

Mutharika has gotten a list of 20 requirements for improvement before donors can entrust his administration to manage their money, they are not accepting the large scale leakage that seems to be standard in Malawi.

Blaming the JBanda administration for Cashgate is pure hypocrisy: he was part of the Bingu administration in different capacities (with questionable success) and 577 billion leaked during that administration. Now, more than 18 months after he was elected the IFMIS (finance management) has still not been overhauled.

Even stronger: no new software has been ordered, let alone implemented. That means that the system is leaking like a basket and donors are not willing to risk the money that their tax payers have worked for in such a structure. In western countries, there is an understandable concept that the support money goes from middle class tax payers in rich countries to the rich in poor countries.

The most powerful (and rich) people in Malawi have the biggest options of dipping their hands in the public kitty, and there is no reason to assume that that has stopped now that the same DPP is in power again.

Then, to commemorate Human Rights Day, Mutharika is shunning his responsibility again: he is talking like the whole population is guilty of human rights abuses in the country, and not taking responsibility, right after two men were arrested for allegedly having consensual sex. And again our constitutional rights are being violated: the government still refuses to table the ATI bill, which is so important for accountability of office bearers, as well as curbing the dreaded corruption that is stealing from the population (and also scaring off donors!). This is a very bad signal for the Malawian population: you have to secure your own human rights while the government keeps violating them.

Not good, not encouraging.

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