The Malta Independent 25 October 2020, Sunday

TMIS Editorial - Konrad Mizzi: ‘You kicked me out, but I’m staying’

Sunday, 28 June 2020, 10:30 Last update: about 5 months ago

After four days of silence, Konrad Mizzi confirmed yesterday that he will stay on as an independent MP. Well, he will be ‘independent’ in all but name, because he made it very clear that he will remain loyal to the Labour Party and vote with the government.

This in itself is a contradiction of what the term ‘independent’ means. But it is also another form of defiance towards Prime Minister Robert Abela and the PL – Mizzi is effectively telling them ‘you kicked me out, but I’m staying.’

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Now, the PL took a bold step on Tuesday when it kicked Mizzi out. The disgraced Minister’s sacking from the Labour parliamentary group was long overdue. It was a step which Joseph Muscat did not have the courage to take, despite the countless scandals and the damage these caused not only to the government but also to Malta’s reputation abroad.

Abela has shown more mettle with regard to Mizzi. He did not include him in his Cabinet in January and has shown no sympathy towards the former star candidate. Abela made it clear that, if Mizzi is responsible for any wrongdoing, he must shoulder the responsibility.

He had warned, a few weeks ago, that if Mizzi was thinking of returning to Malta because he thought that the new police commissioner would not investigate him, he was ‘gravely’ mistaken.

This week, he asked Mizzi to go quietly. When the disgraced former minister refused and made PM’s request public on Facebook, Abela moved to oust him through the party’s executive committee.

Yet Mizzi keeps playing the ‘it wasn’t me game’. He has been pleading innocence since 2016, when the Panama Papers scandal came out and he was outed as the only EU minister who owned a company in the secretive jurisdiction. Shame on you!

He tried to downplay it as a harmless financial decision, but the world told him otherwise. No government minister, in any country, should have secret companies in Panama and try to open accounts in Dubai.

Every time a new scandal emerged, Mizzi tried to convince us that we were all wrong, that we were misunderstanding the issue, or that we were blowing it out of proportion, and that he had done nothing inappropriate.

But not even his party leader believes him now.

Even still, Mizzi continues to plead his innocence and says he will effectively keep doing what he’s doing in Parliament. Mizzi said, in his letter to the Speaker, that he will continue working towards the country’s economic achievements. Perhaps he should start by explaining why 17 Black – the company owned by suspected Daphne murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech – made a profit from the Montenegro windfarm deal. How did Fenech even become aware of such a deal? And why did Cifidex choose 17 Black, out of all the companies in the world, to borrow the millions it needed to purchase the windfarm before selling it at three times that amount to Enemalta?

Perhaps he should tell us about the millions lost in the VGH hospitals deal, and about the controversial 18-year fixed price agreement with SOCAR.

As mentioned earlier, the Prime Minister has said that Mizzi will not be given any special treatment. But we truly hope that his sacking from the PL parliamentary group will not serve as an excuse for the PL. It cannot and should not adopt the ‘he is no longer our problem’ mentality.

Abela said on Tuesday that the PL had adopted the highest standards in politics. Yet high standards do not only demand a sacking from the parliamentary group. If it truly wants us to believe that it has changed its ways, that it is adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, the PL must support, nay, lead the calls for investigations into potentially corrupt deals. As the country’s largest political force, it should use its voice to call for an end to corruption.

One of the first steps should be to put an end to the Nazi-style propaganda TV shows that keep trying to defend the corruption that happened.

The PL must also use the same yardstick with all of its members. The party has so far kicked out Keith Schembri (who was a lifelong member), sacked Mizzi from the Parliamentary Group and asked Chris Cardona to resign from the role of deputy leader.

Yet it is adopting a totally different approach with regard to Joseph Muscat, despite his closeness to the trio and despite the fact that he did not take action against them – something which, according to Abela, was a mistake.

The PL has a golden opportunity to clean its image and atone for its sins. It has done the first steps, but it cannot stop there.

 

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