“I choose not to go.” Konrad Mizzi’s reply to the summoning of the Public Accounts Committee is anything but laconic. It is completely devoid of the defiant spirit in Leonidas’ classical molon labe (‘come and get them’) reply to Xerxes before Thermopylae.
Rather, his reply betrayed a sardonic sense of mockery and disrespect. That sense of mockery has been further compounded by the reluctance of the Labour members of the committee to condemn Mizzi for his actions. The impunity machine was at it again.
Mizzi’s track record of slithering out of uncomfortable situations of accountability is no secret. Under Muscat’s Labour, the star of the ‘Tagħna Lkoll’ circus was given free rein. His signature was at the foot of the major multi-million euro contracts before he was caught with his proverbial pants down.
The man who without any sign of irony told the world that he was naively trying to “populate his assets” became Muscat’s greatest albatross.
Instead of kicking Mizzi into the oblivion he deserved, Muscat shielded him with a series of musical chairs and fake demotions all the while using his services as the supposed magical rainmaker and talisman of Labourite efficiency.
No one in his right mind believed that Mizzi’s shuffle out of the energy portfolio had the effect of really pulling the baby-faced blatherer out of the sphere of influence. It was only a move intended to strengthen his sense of impunity while his dirty fingers dug deeper in the pie of pies.
Mizzi was defended, shielded, and cuddled right until protecting him openly became an embarrassment for Muscat. His golden handshake departure was meant to keep him in silent exile although this weekend’s revelations of his intimate relationship with Yorgen Fenech risk ruining that party.
Independent or not, Mizzi’s former colleagues sitting on the PAC still seem determined to extend that veil of impunity as long as possible.
Another one who would like us to believe that she “chose not to go” is Rosianne Cutajar. According to her, the impending disciplinary hearing for breach of conduct accusations is not the reason she was taken off Malta’s delegation to the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe. She “chose not to go,” she said. The replacement was her idea.
On Facebook, Cutajar insisted she would still defend her name from the allegations made about her in ‘Europe’. The Prime Minister had kept Cutajar in her position for a whole six months after the investigation into her behaviour had been announced. The timing and the methodology of Cutajar’s sudden removal were questionable, to say the least.
The geniuses at PBS decided that you cannot “choose to go” with discussion topics unless you have given a two-week warning to the men upstairs. Presumably, they have confused the cooling-off period for certain purchases with the immediacy upon which current affairs programmes are built. Current affairs are destined to be not-so-current on the TVM news schedule.
Let’s face it, the horse is long dead and has been flogged into an unrecognisable carcass not even fit for vultures. TVM news, the battered puppet of whichever party is in power, has now relegated any trace of real news to the doldrums of the closing credits. Meanwhile, we are regaled with such gems as a full-blown reportage on the prime minister’s visit to the Pope.
The Pope has had to explain why he “chose not to go” to Malta in November citing, among other reasons, the COVID situation. Instead, he entertained a delegation of political royalty and their entourage at the Vatican. Even that bore of a morning preacher Varist Bartolo was there, ever the leftover souvenir of 80s socialism emanating noises of universal peace, harmony and happiness only fit for a Miss Universe contestant.
Closer to home, the Director of Corradino Correctional Facilities is still choosing not to go notwithstanding the increasing amount of evidence pointing to his unsuitability for the job. What is supposed to be a centre for rehabilitation into society has fast become a house of horrors with over a dozen deaths in the past eight years. Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri has his share of responsibility for the goings-on, especially if he stands by his director.
A key part of proper democratic functioning is the system of checks and balances and accountability. The politics of this Labour government may be constantly rewarded at the polls, but the perpetuation of a system of impunity that allows these choices “not to go” to remain unpunished is an abomination.
Labour’s growing popularity at the polls will not hide the fact that our democracy is not going anywhere. The situation remains desperate, the crooks remain everywhere, and they seem to be able to choose not to go. Four years and counting.