Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera last Sunday announced the sacking of his Cabinet Member for misappropriating Covid-19 relief funds worth around Ugx3 million.
Ken Kandodo, the Minister for Labour was fired after he was implicated for diverting US $800 COVID19 relief funds to pay for his travel to South Africa. The $800 scandal was part of a wider probe into the embezzlement of millions of dollars by the Southern African semi desert state.
“I have dropped him from my cabinet accordingly. Even though the minister has since returned the money, his usage of the funds means that the money was unavailable for its intended purpose when it was needed most,” Chakwera said in a Sunday night televised address.
“I cannot have in my cabinet any individuals who either spend money budgeted for one thing on something else or do not ask tough questions to ensure that the money they are spending on something was budgeted for that purpose,” he added.
Kandodo is however not the only one affected by the Chakwera regime’s renewed war on graft. In the same address, the Head of State revealed that he had ordered the arrest of many others implicated in the probe over the $7.8 million Covid-19 funds.
“As I speak, over a dozen individuals suspected of committing the crimes exposed by this audit report have just been arrested by the Malawi Police Service. There are no sacred cows… There will be more arrests,” he said.
Just like in Malawi, funds meant to fight Covid-19 in Uganda were misappropriated according to a report by the Auditor General to Parliament.
Cases of missing funds, illegal procurement process, hiked prices among others were heralded by the report.
Last year, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga openly castigated Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda for superintending over a rotten group that had shamelessly duped the public through the purchase of rotten beans,maize and expired milk that was supplied to Ugandans affected by the pandemic.
Apart from the three officials from the Prime Minister’s office who were arrested at the onset of the pandemic on allegations of breaking procurement rules, others, mainly said to be the ‘ big fish’ continue enjoying life normally.
Many of the culprits, majority of whom are in essential positions in government, are instead positioning themselves for more juicy appointments in the next cabinet reshuffle.
Does Museveni need to call Chakwera for advice?
For the majority of his latest days in power, Museveni’s re-energised war against institutionalised graft has never been in secrecy.
In his victory speech upon swearing in 2016, Museveni made his intentions of eliminating corruption among government officials known by christening the term “Kisanja hakuna mchezo” a swahili phrase loosely translated to mean ” Term for serious work”.
Five years later, corruption cases remain a common phenomenon, prompting critics to accuse the president of handling corrupt officials with soft gloves.
Throughout his campaigns in the just concluded presidential elections, National Unity Platform leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine’s message against government aided graft was loud and reverberating. His promise for a corruption free country could partly have aided his miracle performance at the polls on the very first attempt.
Whereas graft in Africa has been a norm among political leaders, the commendable fight against it by President Chakwera is worth of mention. Just months into the office, the move to clean his house should deservingly catch the attention of fellow leaders like Museveni to consult on how to do things.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org