Malawi: Chakwera has been praised for his anti-corruption drive, but he won’t spend to audit more …

Government has said there are no funds for more audits implying Malawians will be kept in the dark over how K17.5 billion of Covid-19 were used. The decision not to release the funds come 11 days after the leak of the audit report of the first K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds revealed how senior government officials including President Lazarus Chakwera’s close allies were implicated in the free-for-all loot” (Russell Kondowe – ‘Shocking: Chakwera sits on 17 billion Covid-19 funds audit’ 27.04.2021, Malawi24).

President Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance have been credited by so many people for his battle against corruption. As he sacked a minister for his misuse of funds. The leak of Auditor General has also hit the pride of the government, which was supposed to be different from the previous ones.

Chakwera is following a typical pattern here. There is nothing new with corrupt ministers and misuse of office in Lilongwe. There been so many scandals of late. This being import of maize, cash-gate and others have proven how the previous administration was acting.

Now, Chakwera has gone hard and said he wouldn’t accept any corrupt official. However, when his keep audits secret or suspending funding from looking into the books. There can easily be done trade behind closed doors and tenders, which is done with kickbacks and with perks for the ones issuing them. This isn’t anything new… and Chakwera’s government is following suit.

If Chakwera thinks this is a smart move. Well, it’s not wise to keep people in the dark and shield the culprits. Sooner or later, whistle-blowers and other might leak documents to prove to the general public mischief. It might even be a corrupt fellow who didn’t greased, as he wanted to sting the ones higher up who didn’t give him/her a cut. Therefore, the President is doing himself a disservice.

Instead of being transparent and accountable. Letting people audit and showing the reports to the public. He will instead blame lack of funds and not allocate the needed money for the investigation. That shows that his really not seeking the truth and that is deliberate. It is like he knows the partners, the comrades and the culprits behind the scandals. Therefore, its easier to shield them on a technicality. Than actually do his job and govern properly.

Chakwera wants to be the hero, but this is the act of an zero. He wants to be praised and his gotten heroics for the sacking of minister. The Head of State is failing at his own game if he doesn’t prioritize and use funds to audit and have oversight of government spending. How can we trust the reverend, when his keeping it all hidden? What skeletons does his government have in the closet? What misuse of funds and deceit have been done by his appointees?

The President is failing his job and has his priorities wrong. This sort of statement and decision only undermines his anti-corruption drive and cast doubt about his will to do so. It is easy to take the fish and small-fishes who has already been revealed by leaks. However, it is something else to go after the ones who has done things in the dark and yet to be shown to the world. If the President is sincere and honest about it. He would spend money on this and not waste the general public’s time. Neither take the general public for fools.

It is not like COVID-19 funds is the only one. The President have charcoal and surely other scandals will come his way. Now we know he wants to hide these and not have it in the public’s eye. The reverend wants to keep secrets and that’s dishonest of him. Peace.

Malawi’s Triple C’s: Chakwera, Covid-19 Scandal and Charcoal

In Lilongwe everything isn’t all well. The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Transformation Movement (UTM) coalition government is getting into the same sort of corruption scandals, as the ones who plagued them before with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP and former President Peter Mutharika. It is the same ills. Just another head.

It is still wastage of public funds destined to something good for the commoner, the citizens and everyone who needs it. That is why this is blaring the face of the ones who thought they got something else when the opposition got into power. Right now the President and his associates are doing similar acts, which the current day leader was calling out and dismissing in opposition. They were running wild with Maize-gate and other scandals, which is similar to this. The only difference is who is the head of state and who is appointed as head of the government organizations.

Take a look!

President Lazarus Chakwera has fired Co-chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid 19 John Phuka and Commissioner for the Department of the Disaster Management Affairs-DODMA James Chiusiwa, in connection with the mismanagement of COVID response funds. This follows revelations that the larger percentage of the K6.2 billion for Covid 19 response funds, were spent on allowances. There are also fears of massive looting of the funds by controlling officers and heads of clusters who have since been suspended” (Capital FM Malawi, 15.02.2021).

NEWS UPDATE: The Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (MPCC) has demanded that government officials involved in the recently exposed illegal charcoal transportation scandal face prosecution. This follows an investigation which Weekend Nation published on January 30, 2021 titled ‘Our sting,’— which uncovered how government organs such as the Malawi Police Service, Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources, Department of Road Traffic and Safety Services and Malawi Revenue Authority are propelling charcoal trade in the country. The Caucus co-chairperson, Welani Chilenga, said: “Let us not hear of slapped wrists, demotions, or sidewards moves but prosecutions under the full weight of the law.” (Report by Clement Chinoko)” (Nation Online Malawi, 18.02.2021).

Now there is news in co-ordination of President Chakwera is reacting to this. The government are dealing with it, but they are starting an inquiry and investigation of it. However, that is prolonging the agony. Instead of acting swift. Because, that means the President would go after cronies and possible associates in connections to himself. That is why these sort of affairs is tricky. When you follow the money, you don’t know where you ending. Money doesn’t have owners, but it has spenders. This is why people are misusing it and spending funds, which isn’t their in the first place.

For more: “Following the directive by Pres. Lazarus Chakwera, on 14th Feb 2021, that Veep Saulos Chilima must form & lead a special taskforce to review three govt systems of allowances, procurement, and employment contracts, a 14-member taskforce to carry out the assignment has been formed. According to a statement signed by Press officer for the Veep, Pilirani Phiri, the taskforce, to be chaired by Chilima who is also Minister responsible for Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms, will submit its recommendations to Chakwera within 90 days.askforce will hold first meeting on 25th Feb, 2021 to agree on procedures including action plan with clear timelines. “Thereafter, the team will ensure that the public is regularly engaged & that the taskforce is held accountable by both the President & the people of Malawi.”” (Nation Online Malawi, 19.02.2021).

Well, I have my doubt that this is enough. Especially wondering about their mandate to forward individuals caught thieving and getting kickbacks on behalf of the government. Wonder if they will seek to capture the small-fish, but let the Don of the hook. Because, when its all said and done. We know that big-men is eating and having a field day on the public dime. These ones are shielded and have the power behind them. They wouldn’t do this. If they knew it would cost their careers and livelihood. No, because they know the President and his men is behind them. They are all in it and somehow earning fortunes on it.

Chakwera isn’t different there. Just because his an evangelical reverent by trade. Doesn’t mean his holier than though. That is why he invited his family and inner-circle to get appointed in his cabinet. His just continuing traditions in power and does it without a doubt. The only real difference is that his a fierce speaker and can write statements with flair. That doesn’t change the reality on the ground. When both COVID-19 Funds and Charcoal industry is shady. It just means that the government are letting to hands into the cookie-jar and someone leaked the theft. Peace.

REDD+ Kasigau Corridor Project: Lacking results and with questionable affiliations!

There are a December 2016 report written by Jutta Kill and published in parts by the European Union. The name of the Report are: “The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya: A crash dive for Althelia Climate Fund”. This report tells a worrying story of how a project is a possible revenue source, instead of being there for climate change use or even local development. This sort of project and funding should be used for sort of projected land titles that saves the forests or create land that the owners can earn on instead of destroying the land. Something most of the REDD+ funds and projects is about, making sure the forest and the agricultural lands are kept and saved by the use of funding from donors and project builders.

One of the first hard-hitting quotes from the report are: “In addition, several reports document how land use restrictions imposed by the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project hit pastoralists and ethnic Taita and Duruma communities particularly hard while these groups receive very few if any of the benefits the REDD+ project provides to local communities” (Jutta Kill, P: 4, 2016).

So if there are donors who seems to be positive to projects and development projects that isn’t being there for the locals, than why are they offering the monies and using the time to facilitate the project in Kenya?

The Taita Hills REDD+ Project in Kenya has been marketed by Althelia, the project developer Wildlife Works Carbon, institutional funders like the EIB and media supporting market-based environmentalism as the Fund’s signature investment. Wildlife Works Carbon has been operating the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in south-eastern Kenya since 2005” (Jutta Kill, P: 6, 2016). So with this in mind the Althelia has offered certain amount of money on the table, as this was the signature investment, even as it have no benefit for the local communities. The Althelia had done this: “For four of the projects, the Fund’s annual reports indicate that the investment is made in the form of loans whereas for the REDD+ project in Kenya, the 2015 audited financial report mentions an investment through an ‘Emission Reductions Purchase Agreement’ (ERPA). Four of the five projects are also covered by a US$133.8m loan guarantee that USAID has extended to the Althelia Climate Fund in 2014. As of 31 December 2015, investors had disbursed €18,36m of the €101m committed” (Jutta Kill, P: 5, 2016). So the development project are funded through loans that are guaranteed by the USAID, but extended into the Althelia Climate Fund, so the two are co-operating in the direct funding of the REDD+ Kenya. So they are rubber-stamping and giving faith to the projects.

The ‘Stand for Trees’ Initiative, a brainchild of Wildlife Works and supported by USAID, has become an important source of revenue – some say, a lifeline – for many private sector REDD+ projects” (Jutta Kill, P: 17, 2016). So that the Wildlife Works that works inside this REDD+ project, that are using the funds from USAID and EIB, are complicating it more as the other revelations that should worry the ones who cares about the environment and accountability of ones running it: “The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project’s financial lifeline came from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, and BHP Billiton, the mining company with a record of severe environmental damage and forced displacement of communities that stretches back decades and continues to this day” (Jutta Kill, P: 18. 2016). So why would a mining company cares about an environmental project in Kenya, unless they we’re earning funds and getting profits on the project?

You can really understand the issues of the IFC and BHP Biliton involvement, when the local communities gets no benefit or contributing to the projects.

So when you have the Althelia Climate Fund, which is funded with loans from the World Bank private corporation branch IFC and the USAID loans, together in corporation of BHP Bilition, as the REDD+ Project in Kenya is in works with both Wildlife Works, as the ‘Save the Tree’ brainchild. As this was the Althelia signature project. That there are problematic forces in play when the EIB are supporting the REDD+ projects as well, either directly through loans like USAID or like IFC. Therefore, the many actors are surely paying and donating favorable loans so the owners of the fund and the ones living of it makes this the lifeline for the Wildlife Works, even as this one doesn’t have the impact on local communities.

Just as one key observation:

One of the most striking observations was how locally, people referred to Wildlife Works as “the company”. The reasons for this seemed twofold. For one part of “the community”, Wildlife Works is “the company” that instructs guards to confiscate cattle and goats; that prevents the poorest community members in the area from collecting even dry branches for firewood when “the company” itself runs a charcoal production business on the REDD+ project area; that puts up water tanks on residents’ land without even asking permission, let alone paying for the use of the land; that claims to dedicate initially 1/3 of carbon revenue sales to local community projects, but does so in a way that means benefits from these “community” projects are captured by local elites. For example, ranch shareholders who receive 1/3 of the revenue from the carbon credit sales might also sit on the “community development committees” that decide how the 50% of the profit from carbon credit sales” (Jutta Kill, P: 21, 2016).

Another insulting observation:

A carbon offset provider offering carbon credits from the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project writes on its website that “committees determine what projects to undertake, prioritizing them by need and feasibility. ‘So many people have problems with water, so water projects—water tanks, water pipelines—always come first,’ said Pascal Kizaka, a local chief and committee board member” (…) “Exploring the location of one of the “water pipelines” advertised as an activity of the Wildlife Works Carbon REDD+ project revealed that far from what was suggested by the large placard outside the building (a One Vision Center), it seemed that the Wildlife Works contribution to the “water pipelines” project had been just the guttering along the side of the building’s roof and piping to connect the gutters with a water tank constructed by others. People also commented about bore holes put in by “the company” that had never provided any water” (Jutta Kill, P: 23, 2016).

So the Company, the Wildlife Works are supposed to provide water and pipelines. Still, there aren’t any who has been provided with the water, even as the REDD+ Committee Board Member Pascal Kizaka claims, as the locals and community says otherwise. This together with the lacking proof of the help with carbon credit sales and the control of land. This whole development project seems sketchy and a lifeline for Wildlife Works instead of being there for the local Kenyan Communities. Therefore, the use of IFC and Althelia Climate Fund, seems like way of misusing Carbon Tax and Carbon trading, instead of developing the Kasigau project for the Taita and Duruma communities. That deserves better and also deserves that when people and organizations comes in that they does not earn on their misfortune, but actually comes with projects serving them. If not this is just a way of fraudulent development industry, that no republic deserves. Peace.