Why Covid-19 funds probe committee deserve a Malawi trip
Monday, April 26th, 2021
The governor sounded disturbed. Something was clearly amiss. “So Bwana Gwinso, I am expecting you here at 2pm,” he said and hang up.
I was confounded. Why on earth did the county boss want to see me so urgently when it was common knowledge we were no longer the best of friends?
Perhaps you recall we parted ways when he publicly declared support for my rival.
To avoid being caught off guard, I decided to consult one of his well-known sidekicks, MCA Makayoyo.
“That must be something to do with the BBI report. I have heard our county Assembly passed the wrong version,” said the MCA.
“But what have I got to do with that report? We all passed it, why pick on me?” I was puzzled.
“Bwana Gwinso, if my memory serves me right, you were among the first members to endorse the document.”
My colleague was right. I was actually the first to declare support for the document.
I urged the other members to pass it straight away since other counties had done so.
To make matters worse, I swore that I had read the document and seen nothing wrong with it.
Makayoyo did not make matters any better by saying, “Bwana Gwinso, you should be ready to give the governor a convincing explanation for passing a wrong document. I don’t envy you.”
Well, there comes a time when a man has to confront his fears, and this was such a time for me. I made up my mind to face the governor squarely, kama mbaya, mbaya. After all, what was the worst he could do?
A few minutes past 2pm on Friday found me getting into the governor’s office.
To my relief, I found MCAs Pinto and Matayo in there. The two had also expressed loud support for the BBI document, so after all I was not going to be roasted alone.
“Karibu Bwana Gwinso,” the governor said. The look of worry on his face was unmistakable.
My two colleagues looked equally disturbed. “Waheshimiwa, I have called you here for a very important matter. I have called only the three of you because I trust you.”
The picture of a cat playing with a mouse before devouring it came to my mind. The county boss then lowered his voice.
“I have been summoned to appear before the Senate to explain how we used the Covid funds. I’ve talked to fellow governors who have been there and they tell me it is a harrowing experience.”
A sense of relief engulfed me — so it was nothing to do with the BBI document after all?
However, I wondered what we were expected to do about the summons now that none of us was involved in the funds appropriation. The governor had appointed a team of county executives to handle the money.
“I am told the senators are demanding a work plan, a budget and a procurement report,” the governor continued. “But everyone knows Corona was an emergency and you cannot plan for it!”
“Sure,” MCA Pinto said.
“The senators don’t want to hear that. They are just out to prove that we governors are embezzlers of public funds.
What is even more annoying is that I was not in that committee that controlled the funds!” the county supremo fumed and banged the table.
“Pole, Sir,” mumbled MCA Matayo.
“But Bwana Governor, why don’t you ask them to summon the Finance and Planning executive who was chairing that Covid funds committee?” I asked. The boss gave me a you-have-not-said-anything-sensible look.
“Do you know those senators, or you just hear about them? They insist that the governor must appear in person.”
There then followed a moment of awkward silence. I was dying to know what exactly the governor wanted us to do. It however did not take long for matters to be clear.
“I have called you here because I want us to form a probe committee to look into the usage of the funds.
With such a team in place, the senators should be convinced we are serious about public funds.”
MCA Pinto broke into a broad smile and said, “Bwana Governor, the president of Malawi recently dealt firmly with those who had misappropriated Covid funds. I suggest that we as a committee visit Malawi and learn from the best practices.”
The governor’s face lit up. “Straight away!” he declared.
We are now preparing to leave for a 5-day benchmarking tour of Malawi. We must learn how to deal with Covid funds embezzlers. Watakiona! – [email protected]