Mizzi was always expendable

Another domino has fallen, but it’s too soon to celebrate.

Konrad Mizzi was always expendable. He isn’t cut from the same cloth as Keith Schembri or Joseph Muscat.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, just like the rest of them. I can’t think of a single member of this Cabinet who wouldn’t be convicted of corruption —  or forced to resign in disgrace for enabling it — in a country with functioning rule of law.

But they lack Schembri’s matter of fact attitude towards illicit self-enrichment. And none have Muscat’s arrogance paired with his sociopath’s stare when threatened.

Mizzi is the natural fall guy for his two co-conspirators.

They presented him as a policy wonk who would transform the country. A strange technocrat genius brought in from the world of business to serve the people.

In reality, he was an undistinguished IT employee with few accomplishments. A sort of blank slate they could project the national pipe dream onto.

Someone had to sign those contracts with Electrogas and Vitals Global Healthcare — and it wasn’t going to be Muscat or Schembri. The person whose signature was on the paper could be conveniently blamed if things went wrong, even years later. The dupe left holding the bag.

Sure, Mizzi’s Panama company indicates he got a cut like the rest of them. That’s how the mafia works. Making someone complicit — allowing them to participate in the crime — guarantees their silence through shared guilt.

Unfortunately, Mizzi bought into the story they told about him.

He even tested the waters around the idea of succeeding Muscat as Prime Minister, utterly unaware that he lacked the necessary qualities: the ability to lie without becoming flustered, and the brazenness to face down delegations from Europe.

Mizzi also failed to see that his past was his greatest liability. He only avoided resignation in the wake of the Panama Papers because Muscat wouldn’t let him fall. It was too early to play that card.

But making a man with that sort of baggage Malta’s next Prime Minister would have sent too direct a message to Europe, and to the world’s financial centres.

No, Muscat’s successor always had to be a puppet. Someone who would present the illusion of change while carefully doing nothing to alter the filthy status quo.

Part of this illusion involved cutting loose two of the most visible crooks in the parliamentary den of thieves: Vitals EneMizzi and Brothels Cardona.

Abela claimed Mizzi had to go because of his ties to the Panama Papers and 17 Black — old news that should have been acted on in 2016.

“If Konrad Mizzi is shown to be involved at all in this case,” Abela said, “he must either decide to resign, or else I will have to take the decision myself as I did in another case”.

Mizzi’s involvement couldn’t have been documented any more clearly than it was four years ago. And so those who were previously told to defend him were now instructed to vote him out.

The other senior figure Abela acted ‘decisively’ against — first hinting he should leave, and then issuing an ultimatum that was only obeyed when the recipient felt like it — was the former Minister of Brothels Chris Cardona.

Cardona couldn’t possibly remain a top figure in the Labour party after an expert witness analysed his long hidden phone data and testified that, yes, just as Daphne said, the disgraced former minister was likely paying for group sex on government time.

What is it with these guys? When they aren’t screwing the taxpayer, they’re using your money to screw someone else.

The more things pretend to change, the more they cover up the same.

The unanimous kicking of Mizzi to the kerb is progress, but it’s far too soon to celebrate small victories because the untouchable spider at the centre of the web is still pulling the strings.

This was just a bit of camouflage to wave at the agencies breathing down Malta’s neck.

The new police commissioner Angelo Gafa claims he’s ready to investigate Muscat and Schembri. He used his first press conference to say “names do not impress me, we will investigate anyone… every case of corruption will be investigated and we will prosecute if we have proof.” 

The ‘if’ in his statement feels like a loophole. Clearly documented proof of Schembri’s financial crimes have been languishing in drawers for years.

The clock is already ticking on Gafa. Judge him by what he does, not what he says.

Convictions are the only currency that count here, and you should settle for nothing less.

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