Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has been blocked by Electricity-Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom) from probing the the state-owned power utility over over procurement deals.
ACB wanted to probe payment stand off with utility and its suppliers but the graft-busting body says the utility had blocked its investigations.
The bureau, however, maintains that the investigations have not been aborted.
An audit report show some senior managers at Escom abused K1.3 billion by buying items without the consent of both Escom’s Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) and the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) as provided by the law.
The utility had materials worth over K1.3 billion misprocured, according to the corporation’s internal audit report for the period between January and June 2016.
Escom board chairperson Jean Mathanga confirmed they blocked ACB investigations, saying “we will probe ourselves.”
Mathanga is doubling as Escom chairperson and Malawi Electoral Commission member.
Escom – notorious for constant power cuts and tariff hikes- has always been a “hot-spot” for fraud involving politicians.
Ben Kalua, an economist at Chancellor College said this culture of impunity of stealing from public coffers will never come to an end as long as government continue to shield corrupt gangsters because of political patronage.
“This money was abused, this might be one of the factors we have constant blackouts, this is a sign of inefficiency,” said Kalua.
Recently, the organisation’s finance director Bettie Mahuka quit her job for being pressured to authorise alleged dubious payments which was against her conscience.
A newspaper columnist Steve Nhlane revcently wrote: “Truth be told, Escom’s inefficiency is because it has been abused, not so much by its corporate management as by its political masters. It is an open secret the organisation spends billions of kwacha to pay for equipment it hardly needs. And then we expect it to perform! We are kidding!
“Which brings me to the malfeasance of the Office of the Director of Public Procurements (ODPP). Everyone who wants to fleece Escom (and many other public organisations) hides behind the authority of this office to the point it has become one of the most abused institutions in the country. The ODPP is made to issue no objection authorisations for procurements that ought to be competed for.
“The only right qualification you need to have to get a no objection from this organisation is the right political connection. It is high time the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)—I wish it had teeth—zeroed in on this organisation and objectively and professionally started scrutinising the thousands of no objection authorisations it issues to political masters.”
Graft continues to be rampant in Malawi, one of world’s poorest countries.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :