K1.3bn Escom scam: Malawi govt slowness to act on public money plunderers worry economist

A renowned economist has expressed worry over government’s slowness on pouncing on those who plunder public financial resources, saying this gives encouraging signals to public purse thieves.

Prof Ben Kalua: Punish the cashgaters everywhere even in cabinet

Prof Ben Kalua: Punish the cashgaters everywhere even in cabinet

Ben Kalua, an economist at Chancellor College was commenting on reports that the government is reluctant to act on suspects of K1.3 billion Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom)scam.

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.

“This money was abused, this might be one of the factors we have constant blackouts, this is a sign of inefficiency,” said Kalua.

Escom—notorious for constant power cuts and tariff hikes— had materials worth over K1.3 billion misprocured, according to the corporation’s internal audit report for the period between January and June 2016.

Kalua said this culture of impunity of stealing from public coffers will never come to an end as long as President Peter Mutharika continues to shield the seven cabinet ministers named in the so called K577 billion cashgate report – apparently Auditor General says the ‘grand corruption’ is about K236 billion and not K577.

“These parastatal chief executives know that the government shields thieves. Cabinet ministers cannot fight theft and corruption if they, themselves are involved,”Kalua said in an interview with a local radio station.

He therefore asked the government to stop the culture of shielding theft suspects if Malawi has to deal with the vice.

“We have these prolonged blackouts because money meant for electricity maintenance is going in peoples pockets,” he said.

Escom board chairperson Jean Mathanga could not immediately comment on the audit findings.

But Escom management said  y it is aware that there were urgent procurements of critical materials for migrating customers on post-paid meters to prepaid meters and connecting new customers due to high demand while waiting for the delivery of bulk supplies which were already on order.

Ministry of Energy officials said they were investigating the matter.

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9 thoughts on “K1.3bn Escom scam: Malawi govt slowness to act on public money plunderers worry economist”

  1. Diskova says:

    Another Malawian article, another corruption scandal. These govt organisations will continue to act as cash cows for our country’s so-called ‘elite’ (aka politicians and their cronies) for as long as they lack basic fraud/corruption prevention and detection controls. It’s quite simple really. The people at the top know how to stop this hemorrhaging of public funds. Anyone with access to Google can figure out what needs to be done.

    But they choose not to because they are direct/indirect benefactors of these system inefficiencies!

    Therefore, it does not matter which govt or party is in power. As long as these loopholes exist in these organisations’ procurement processes, mass corruption will continue to be a major Achilles heel to our country’s progression.

  2. thumbwe man says:

    In the first place, why did Escom engage a thief as Director of procurement Nkhono? Escom very well knew how he together with Kandi stole Escom money and when the law was about to catch on him, Kandi approved his school out to uk. He built a multimillion storey building using Escom dirty money. All this 1.3 billion is under his influence. Kandi fasciliated for his present position when Atupele was minister of mining and natural resources. Atupele udf, kandi udf and nkhono udf

  3. concerned citizen says:

    Investigating the mater . End of story . we shall not hear any thing positive after the so called investigations. What is happening in our country with the plundering of public resourses by politicians , government parastatals is what has pushed people in other countries to rise against their governments. Ochepa kumadyelera when majority are suffering.

  4. Abigail says:

    If you want to know why government is reluctant to investigate just check who were the suppliers of those materials and you will get your answer

  5. Chimunthu says:

    ESCOM is disfunctional. It does NOT supply Malawi with electricity, only some parts of Malawi some of the time. It needs to be privatised and there needs to be competition. As longs as it is a government organization there will always be mismanagement and misappropriation of goods and capital. Malawi will never progress as longs as there is no regular, constant and reliable supply of electricity. Meanwhile you cannot expect thieves to prosecute thieves.

  6. Zam\'dziko says:

    You who the Escom Board chair is….a very influential Mulhakho wa Lhomwe person. So forget any meaningful investigation on this. This shall die a natural death just like the Chasowa case and MEC warehouse fire arson. Mangani Secretary to The Treasury has just written Roads Authority Board to act on Hiwa’s case. Let us wait and see if he is also going to write to the Escom Board because this is also a case of misprocurement and therefore in contravention to the Public Finance Management Act

    1. zoona says:

      Mangani is wasting his time. How far have we gone with the MERA case? Tafatsani baba Mangani you are just exposing your naivete. Iwe ndithu kumangolemba zizungu zako as if the PFMA is your baby. Who told you that people dont know the contents?

  7. Escom has already failed us. I don’t remember at anytime to have been impressed with Escom services. Imagine, in addition to the usual blackouts we have from them, they even had to punish us again by grabbing our prepaid units in the name of giving us new gadgets replacing the first prepaid meters. We had to go to them again and again to give us back our units which we bought. What a nonsense! Dissolve this group and employ new ones. These people are useless

    1. Kaziulika Chimugonda says:

      This despite the fact that is our tax, we will pay again by hiking tariff. This is internal matter as far as this regime is concern. Nobody will be prosecuted for stealing MK1.3bn. Today, this a daily song in Malawi. New-born babies know cash-gate. I repeat, this will be paid by customers.

Comments are closed.