Minister of Information, Communications Technology and Civic Education, Patricia Kaliati has said Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) vice-chairperson Kamlepo Kalua is defaming cabinet ministers by insinuating that they are all thieves, challenging him to disclosed names of ministers implicated in the recent forensic audit report.
Kalua, who is also Rumphi East member of Parliament (People’s Party-PP) and PP third vice-president, has claimed there are seven serving Cabinet ministers implicated in the report as disclosed by Auditor General.
Apparently, Kalua had been vocal in demanding the dismissal of the said seven Cabinet ministers named in the forensic audit report covering the period 2009 to December 2014 which established that about K236 billion and not K577 billion in public funds as initially estimated could not be accounted for.
But Kaliati, who is also government spokesperson, said Kalua should mention the seven rotten ministers other than making sweeping allegations.
“By associating the ministers with the forensic audit report, Kalua is insinuating that we are all thieves,” said Kaliati at Mtambanyama primary school ground when President Peter Mutharika witnessed he launch of the construction of the 83 km construction of Thyolo-Makwasa-Thekerani-Muona road.
She added: “This is defamation and may also incite violence in the country.”
But Kalua said he has the names but it is not his job to name and shame.
“Why should I give the names to the President as if I am an auditor. I am not an auditor. I am not chief secretary. I am not the one who audited. I am not.”
Kalua has also ignored President Peter Mutharika’s 24-hour ultimatum for the legislator to disclose names of cashgate ministersimplicated in the recent forensic audit report.
He challenged that he would not provide the names as per Mutharika’s request because he had no such mandate.
Kalua argued that the President could not claim that he did not have the names when the Attorney General had advised the Auditor General against releasing the names when the demand was first made after the forensic audit was released.
He said: “How can the President reconcile that the Auditor General went to the Attorney General to seek guidance on releasing names and he was advised against the idea? What names was the Auditor General referring to?”
Preliminary audits of government finances between 2009 and 2014, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and financed by the German government, indicate that at least K577 bn. ($807 mn.) could not be accounted for.
Later, the estimated loss was reduced to K236 bn. ($330 mn.), still a gigantic figure for such a small country, about one third of the government’s annual budget.
PP legislators, led by Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire and Kalua, led calls for the names of all suspects to be made public.
In parliament, Mkandawire mentioned Agriculture Minister George Chaponda to have been named in the report.
Chaponda denied any involvement.
Revelations of the K577 billion cashgate came hot on the heels of a forensic audit report by British firm, RSM (formely called Baker Tilly), that established that K24 billion was looted from Capital Hill between April and September 2013 under the administration of Joyce Banda and her People’s Party (PP).
Banda is on record saying “ There must be a stubborn link between the MK577 billion scandal of 2009 and 2012 and the MK20 billion cashgate of 2013.”
The ‘grand corruption’ audit report will be a stern test to President Mutharika committement to fight corruption without fear or favour.
Observers also note that lack of political will has crippled Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau, undermining their efforts through political interference and threats.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :