JUST when Malawians were getting used to feeling like normal people; where normal people refers to a people living in twenty first century, and being governed as such, a carry-over from the old Cabinet is already bent on tarnishing the new government’s image.
For those that have been off-line, and have not been following news from Malawi, the leftover in question is none other than Dr. Ken Lipenga. Now just how, one may be wondering, is Dr. Ken Lipenga dragging President Joyce Banda’s government in the mud?
Isn’t Dr Lipenga the man who has recently been flying around, investing his energies to engage donors to re-open the aid taps? Isn’t this the man we should be thanking for the positive vibes coming from Washington?
And this is where the problem is. How? Read on.
But let us deal with first things first. Permit us to digress and take a long look at Dr. Ken Lipenga. Dr. Ken Lipenga was born on February 14th, 1952 at in Chiringa, Phalombe. He got his primary education at Nazombe Primary School and thereafter was selected to go to Mulanje Secondary School.
He went on to the University of Malawi; enrolled as a freshman at Soche Hill College in 1972 and graduated with a bachelors’ degree (with distinction) in 1976.
While at the university he studied English and History - as an educator. Years later, he got scholarship and continued with his studies in English Literature at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. For his trouble he was awarded a Ph.D. in 1984.
Currently serving as a Finance Minister, Dr. Lipenga, who dawdled for a while as a journalist and university lecturer, has been a member of parliament for several years and has served as a cabinet minister in many portfolios. He therefore knows how the government works, or at least ought to work.
His first appointment as Minister of Finance by late President Bingu wa Mutharika took many by surprise. This was because, for all his higher learning and teaching, nobody had heard Dr. Ken Lipenga talking about book-keeping not to talk about economics.
His skills, as far as everyone is aware, are more attuned to linguistics and literally works. And they were not being wasted in his previous appointments. He was applying them, with good effect, on the audience at the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) as a Minister of Tourism.
He was using his skills to put Malawi on the map, which would have – if he had been very successful – brought the much needed foreign exchange: And this noble wish and the spirited intentions to bring forex to Malawi is the closest Dr. Lipenga got to money matters.
But to be fair on Dr. Lipenga, one has to look beyond him. Long before his time at the ministry responsible for money matters, the late Aleke Banda had already proved that one doesn’t need to be steeped in economics or be a chartered accountant to lead this ministry.
Therefore, a lack of traceable or accredited training in economics or finance should not be held against Dr Lipenga. But now, it has transpired that he has an even worse liability. Dr Ken Lipenga, the man President Joyce Banda sent to Washington, London, and Brussels to sweet-talk donors told a lie in our parliament.
Now this is a major disaster not only for President Joyce Banda personally, but for the nation at large. What would the gurus he spoke to in Washington, New York, Brussels think about this?
Having heard of Dr. Lipenga’s inability to vouch for the figures he presents, do they still have confidence in the figures that he has been eloquently reading to them? Are they not having second thoughts on their pledges to resume aid?
If President Joyce Banda buys the crap that Dr Lipenga is selling (the trash that the minister wasn’t responsible for and this and that); if she insists on retaining him, it will cost us.
We will, shortly after getting respite, again suffer for the sins of one man. And since Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika is gone, we know where to look.
The point is: not only did Dr. Lipenga fail to heed advice from a patriotic and fellow MP who was advising in good faith that the figures he was presenting to the house of parliament were massaged, but Dr. Lipenga’s response was designed to ridicule this honest whistle-blower.
And further, having failed to listen and act immediately on the tip from a fellow honourable parliamentarian, George Mnesa, today Dr. Lipenga comes and insults the nation further:
“What I am emphatically stating is that I did not knowingly mislead the national assembly. I did not knowingly present false information to parliament; there, in my view there is no basis for the calls.”
Emphatically, emphatically what? Who, if not you Mr Minister of Finance, was supposed to know?
Dr. Ken Lipenga, not because he failed to follow up on a well-meaning piece of information, but by refusing to take full responsibility – which is a prerequisite for any individual entrusted with handling public resources – must go.
It’s true that the zero deficit budget is dead but which donor will trust Dr. Lipenga’s figures? Who will be confident that this time around the minister has double-checked his books?
Having demonstrated rank arrogance when caught presenting cooked books, it’s hereby recommended that Dr. Ken Lipenga must go.
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment