Uncle Harvest: Of the Review of the Public Finance Management Act

Political leadership must set itself on fire and hold this ugly bull by its horns and wrestle it down: if it means a one-term presidency, let it be.

One time I was privileged to have a conversation with a very respectble Malawian, former Accountant-General and former Auditor-General, on issues of fraud, theft and corruption in the Malawi Public Service.

I asked him the question,"What is wrong with the Public Finance Management Act, the Public Audit Act, the Public Procurement Act, and IFMIS?"

His answer was very interesting indeed, “There is nothing wrong with all these.”

"What is the problem then?", I further asked.

" It is the people that are the problem," he said.

The people are the problem and not the laws.

I agreed with the Editorial Comment in The Nation of Thursday 9 September 2021.

We can change the laws and standing procedures as much as we can, but if we do not change the thinking and transform the behaviour of the people in the system nothing will change.

People will still find a way of overcoming the " obstacles" that the new watertighter law will try to set up.

If changing the minds of people and transforming their way of doing business fails, what needs to happen is to change the people.

They are the problem and not the law.

The people that are sabotaging the Tonse government are the same people that were sabotaging DDP, PP and UDF. It is time we dealt with "the people problem" in the Public Service.

The people problem is responsible for the underperformance of the Service, it is responsible for the fraud, theft and corruption.

You cannot circle around it. We have done so for too long.

The Malawi Public Service suffers from a deficiency of integrity.

There are no strong pillars that can hold the systems together, men and women without cracks in character and conduct.

Public servants with a strong and positive work ethic, who also respect the rule of law.

If only our laws, systems and procedures are respected by all, without exception, we would have a system that works to our good.

All the acts of theft, fraud and corruption are deliberate acts that overlook the law and approved procedures.

They are a product of both laziness, negligence , and arrogance.

They come from the rottenness in people's hearts.

Let us deal with this rottenness.

We have talked about the need for political will, and this is not a new outcry.

What we need from political leadership that goes beyond rhetoric for us to see the change we have so much talked about, is not just the will.

The political will must be accompanied by “ukaziwotche”.

Political leadership must set itself on fire and hold this ugly bull by its horns and wrestle it down.

If it means a one term presidency, let it be.

I can assure such " self setting on fire leadership" that Malawians would judge you right and give you a second term.

The elephant in the room are the people.

You are as good as the people you have.

Instil the appropriate work ethic, integrity, honesty,truthfuness, hard work, and trustworthiness. Let the battle cry sound.