The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Disownment - One down, one more to go

Thursday, 25 June 2020, 08:59 Last update: about 18 days ago

After years of controversy, Konrad Mizzi was finally kicked out of the Labour Parliamentary Group on Tuesday. The ‘Panama Papers minister’, once a Labour star candidate, was disowned by his own party.

The move was long overdue. Mizzi was among a small group of persons who, time and time again shamed Malta’s name due to his involvement in several scandals.

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After announcing the PL executive’s decision on Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that one of the reasons why Mizzi was kicked out was his involvement in the Panama Papers scandal – indeed, Mizzi was the only EU minister mentioned in the famous leak.

The PM had initially asked Mizzi to go quietly, but the former minister took to Facebook instead, and told the world that he did not agree with his own party leader. But his defiance was short-lived because a couple of hours later, the PL executive, in an almost unanimous vote, forced him out.

Abela had already distanced himself from Mizzi when it was alleged that he had been living in the UK to avoid prosecution and when the latest details emerged in the Montenegro scandal. He did the same with former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar after it was alleged that he had made contact with an associate of the middleman in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

But, on the other hand, he is defending his predecessor, Joseph Muscat, saying that the circumstances are different.

We beg to differ. Abela himself said that Mizzi’s sacking was not about criminal liability but rather about political responsibility. Mizzi was sacked because a number of scandals took place when he was minister. But using that same yardstick, Muscat should also be fired, because he was ultimately responsible for everything that happened under his watch.

Abela said that Muscat’s only mistake was that he kept Mizzi by his side.

Yes, that is true, but there are many other reasons why Muscat should also step down from Parliament. While, under his stewardship, the country made great economic and social advances, the last seven years were a turbulent time, with scandals becoming the order of the day.

Under his watch, a journalist was killed, and people close to Castille are constantly being mentioned in connection with the murder and with alleged perversion of justice. Under his watch, the government entered into several deals which are, to this day, costing the taxpayer millions of euro with no visible return.

Mizzi was not just any minister – he was very close to Muscat. He was handpicked by Muscat. Yet Muscat kept defending him tooth and nail, even when it was clear that Mizzi should have no place in politics.

Abela boasted on Tuesday that the PL had set a “new standard” in politics. If he truly means that, then he should immediately ask Muscat to step down too. The PM should know that the concept of political responsibility applies to everyone, especially to those at the very top.

Perhaps he feels uncomfortable moving against Muscat because of the popularity that the former PM still enjoys, or perhaps there are other reasons. But this is not a time for half measures. The country needs to heal and move on, and this can only happen if those who were politically responsible are made to answer for their actions, if every shady deal is investigated and cancelled if need be, and if all those who are guilty of corruption are brought to justice.

 

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