Few people believed Joseph Muscat was innocent of all that went on around him. When he refused to fire Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri in 2016 when they got caught with Panama companies, he gave everyone a clear hint that he was up to his neck in it. We didn’t know what “it” was. We understood that one did not set up Panama companies “to populate it with one’s assets” as Konrad Mizzi would have had us believe. We understood there was a roadmap to daylight robbery there and this was just a hint thrown at us by the serendipity of the Panama leaks.

Few people believed Joseph Muscat was innocent of all that went on around him. When he took it upon himself to give immunity to Melvyn Theuma but then manipulated cabinet into denying it to Yorgen Fenech, we knew he was using his legal authority to protect his personal interest. What that interest was precisely was not clear. But the fact that he allowed Keith Schembri to remain in the room while he got briefings on Daphne’s murder even while Yorgen Fenech was a suspect was an important hint.

I remember first seeing that video of Joseph Muscat and that silly, greedy and vain wife of his, giving bottles of champagne by the neck a vigorous hand job, jumping to the tune of ‘ma tagħmlu xejn ma’ Joseph tagħna’. It looked crass and undignified. It looked inappropriate for the person of the prime minister and for the building that is the official residence of our chief executive. But there was a psychological depth to that clip and to the fact that it made its way out of that room.

It was relief and defiance. It was the exultation of bank robbers who have made it to their hideout stuffing their faces in the duffle bags and inhaling the odour of money.

It also looked like a reprieve after months of pressure, feeling the heat of everyone’s suspicion. They were shouting down the whispers of those around them:

The cowards like Evarist Bartolo who knew what they’d done but would not dare say so aloud.

And the scheming vultures like Chris Fearne who consumed his political life patting his furry cut in the shadows waiting for the moment to pounce which never came. They were looking away from the ghosts that had been haunting them. They had been tired and afraid and now, the Muscats, were pumping adrenaline.

We’ve known for some time that Yorgen Fenech was at that party. He brought expensive gifts that day and the nature of those gifts suggests a mood of celebration.

We’ve also known that Yorgen Fenech had been spending a lot of time with Melvyn Theuma around that time, keeping him calm, trying to keep him from spilling the beans, perhaps – if Melvyn Theuma’s fears were right – assessing whether Melvyn Theuma needed to be killed like the killers who killed Banquo.

It seems we are to expect evidence that Yorgen Fenech was assuring Joseph Muscat they’d never get caught. That they’d continue to enjoy the sweet and lovely money they had been making without even the shadow of Daphne Caruana Galizia to mess things up for them.

“Ma tagħmlu xejn ma’ Joseph tagħna” indeed.

In spite of the fact that we’ve had all these irrefutable inklings for so many months and years, many of us held out hope that Malta did not have a prime minister so mired in corruption that he would help cover up the murder executed to prevent its exposure. Many countries have tyrants in their histories that embarrass them. Some of our own governors have left legacies that we are not proud of. But there’s nothing comparable to Joseph Muscat’s since Gonsalvo Monroi.

Somehow many held out hope Joseph Muscat, the darling of our time, the prime minister of l-aqwa żmien, was innocent of this. But his protestations are ever hollower now.

As are Robert Abela’s protestations of not being aware of any of this before now. He’s lying. Robert Abela was a tool in Joseph Muscat’s attempt to get away with his crimes. But not an unwitting victim of Joseph Muscat’s exploitative machinations. He was and is a willing accomplice.

Consider the fact that he was in the room when the cabinet last November was briefed about what Yorgen Fenech was saying about massive corruption he was involved in with their colleagues. Last November they knew about the Montenegro imbroglio. And they were briefed of even more rot that we’ve only yet been given a whiff of.

And yet, when days later he was campaigning for leadership, he promised his electorate continuity. He attacked protesters as seditionists and called on activists to go back to their homes to “let us govern”.

His first official commitment as party leader was to visit Joseph Muscat in his Burmarrad home and pose for photographs. Within his first week in office he received Joseph Muscat officially for a visit in Castille. There would be more. To the point that he publicly named Muscat his most trusted adviser.

Robert Abela is not some renewal of our political class. He’s as bad as Evarist Bartolo and Chris Fearne, and worse. Like Evarist Bartolo he pronounces disgust today over something he’s known for months before us and kept it to himself. Like Chris Fearne he stayed in the background, a silent witness of evil crimes waiting for his moment to step in and exploit those crimes to gain power for himself. But he’s worse than either for having the gall to lie about his role in all this.

Consider this moment of spectacular hypocrisy by Robert Abela at his press conference on Friday. In his reply to Times of Malta’s Jacob Borg who had that morning published with Reuters the story of his stellar career, Robert Abela wondered aloud how long Reuters and Times of Malta had known about the Montenegro corruption scandal.

Robert Abela wanted to imply Reuters and Times of Malta sat on information for tactical reasons when, as he reminded at the same press conference, the civic duty of any citizen is to inform the police of any wrongdoing they are aware of.

That is loaded with so many things, it takes a list to break it properly down.

Firstly, the disturbing fact that Robert Abela was pretending to have discovered the Montenegro scandal when reading the Times of Malta report like the rest of us last Friday. He was lying. Malta Today reported that cabinet was briefed in November about the Montenegro corruption. And this photo shows Robert Abela was an unsworn cabinet minister when that briefing happened.

He’s known all along and yet he entertained Konrad Mizzi’s nomination to an international body in January and has not moved to dismiss him from the parliamentary party. Not to mention how he continued to worship at the altar of Joseph Muscat without the courage of his own authority as prime minister and party leader to distance himself from his predecessor.

Secondly, it may be a civic duty to inform the authorities of suspected wrongdoing, but Robert Abela should know that when one does that they’ll get bashed as traitors. Also, the authorities have a habit of ignoring evidence against politicians. Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Chris Cardona and others have been reported to the authorities countless times. Nothing happened. The job of journalists is not to replace the authorities and fulfil their duties for them. It is to inform us, the public, of things the authorities hide from us.

Thirdly, if it is true that it is the civic duty of all to inform the authorities of crimes they are aware of, then he is the first to be guilty of that. Unfortunately, in most cases it is not illegal to be aware of a crime and to keep that information to yourself. If it were, Edwin Brincat il-Ġojja, Johann Cremona and many others would be in handcuffs after admitting in open court Melvyn Theuma discussed with them having killed Daphne Caruana Galizia. None of them did anything about it.

Of course, civic duty goes beyond legal duty. But when our political class leads with the example it gives, people will tend to fall short of legal norms, not exceed them for excess of loyalty to their country.

Robert Abela is no national redemption for this country blighted by the sin of electing and supporting Joseph Muscat. And yet, as an umpteenth survey shows, there is not alternative to him. An early election seems a certainty. Like the one in June 2017, the coming election will be intended to absolve Robert Abela and the Labour Party of its unequalled sins. It will serve to blanket over the crimes – the lying, the stealing, the murdering and the covering up – with the legitimacy of popular support.

That electoral cover-up is the one crime the Labour Party is not guilty of. For that, responsibility lies with the Nationalist Party, unable or unwilling to provide the country with an alternative people can hope for and look forward to.

I have been receiving some more messages with the same old mantra that I should start looking at the big picture now and, in the service of the need to push Labour out of office, I should start openly supporting Adrian Delia’s PN. Apparently that is my civic duty. A duty that is supposed to trump my obligation to follow my conscience, speak freely of what I think, and to criticise inadequacy, incompetence and corruption wheresoever it comes from.

While the real civic duty here belongs to the Nationalist Party that exists to provide an alternative and must therefore front an alternative prime minister that people can feel they can look forward to as an improvement to their current lot.

If no one else is willing to do their job here, it doesn’t mean I have to stop doing mine.