The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) would like to commend His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi for setting the pace in defining what a transparent and accountable government is supposed to be. For record purposes, Dr. Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance administration has introduced a tradition of giving weekly updates to the nation on matters of national interest; weekly updates from the State House where the members of the press are getting updates and asking questions on matters of national interest; compliance with the country’s constitution which demands the President to appear before the National Assembly to answer questions. These are some of the notable developments that enhance transparency and accountability from government.
The President should know that as long as he is occupying the State House, CDEDI and indeed all Malawians that mean well for this country will never get tired in demanding transparency and accountability from his Tonse Alliance government, on top of constant reminders to fulfill all his campaign promises made prior to the June 23, 2020 court sanctioned Fresh Presidential Elections.
CDEDI, however, has noted with concern that President Chakwera is not coming out in the open to explain to Malawians on issues that are bordering on financial matters. Malawians may recall that the Tonse Alliance partners promised during their campaign trail that they would be transparent and accountable to Malawians on all financial matters, since they would be dealing with taxpayers’ money. CDEDI has evidence of video clips containing such campaign promises, including a consolidated Tonse Alliance manifesto.
The following are some of the issues the Tonse Alliance administration has kept under wraps:
1. Expenses incurred during the Independence Celebrations which were cancelled at the eleventh hour when preparations were almost finished: CDEDI has Dr. Chakwera on tape, telling Malawians soon after taking oath of office that government will proceed to hold Independence celebrations despite the Covid-19 pandemic, only to make a U-turn after a public backlash. By the time he was rescinding his decision, payments had already been made. It is in the spirit of transparency and accountability that CDEDI demands a proper breakdown of such expenses and make them known to Malawians in the next weekly update the President is going to make;
2. Expenses incurred by the President on his foreign trips: Dr. Chakwera has recently travelled to Zambia, Zimbambwe, Tanzania and Mozambique. The President has been using a chartered plane, and was accompanied by a contingent of government officials as well as some civilians. Malawians may recall that the Tonse Alliance spoke so passionately against using chartered planes and getting on board the whole village of escorts on foreign trips, arguing that such tendencies left taxpayers bleeding. On the contrary, we have seen President Chakwera doing exactly what he spoke against. CDEDI believes that Dr. Chakwera is being hypocritical, and we are challenging him to update the nation on how different the Tonse Alliance administration is from the previous administration, in as far as issues of prudent use of public resources is concerned. CDEDI is expecting to get this response in the President’s next weekly update;
3. The President has remained mum on the recent scandal involving his State House Chief of Staff and Director of Finance on dubious payments made to Crossroads Hotel. These officials should have been suspended by now, if President Chakwera were serious and committed to his slogan of ‘clearing the rubble.’ CDEDI is demanding Dr. Chakwera to keep his word on accountable leadership and give a statement in his next weekly update, on the action he has taken regarding the scandal involving the State House officials;
Lastly but not the least, if Dr. Chakwera does not tackle in his next weekly update these breath-taking issues that have been singled out in this statement, then CDEDI is demanding the President to stop these weekly briefs, as they are nothing but a clear example of a Public Relations stunt, befitting Public Relations Officers (PROs) for government ministries and departments, and not the high office of the Presidency.
CDEDI is a non-partisan, nongovernmental organization that was established in a quest to attain a well-informed and organized citizenry that can ably demand their social and economic rights at the same time hold duty bearers accountable for their actions.
Among many others CDEDI aims at sensitizing the masses on matters of national importance, inculcate the spirit of a peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic, political and religious affiliations; provide civic education on people’s rights and responsibilities in economic independence and contribution towards national development and lobbying for the electoral law reforms.