Malawi CSOs slam govt on cash gate trial, forensic audit report

The Civil Society community in Malawi has described as disastrous government’s continued rhetoric and empty choruses on fighting corruption arguing there is a clear shielding and preferential treatment of cash gate suspects.

The organisations say there is clear lack of genuine political will from the ruling People’s Party (PP) leadership to decisively root out corruption in the country despite the podium talk.

They further express concern over the delayed release of the forensic audit report to the public which government already sent to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the surprise and alienation of Malawians.

Mhone (middle) addressing the press with other members of the coalition

Mhone (middle) addressing the press with other members of the coalition

The organisations, under the CSO Grand Coalition, have expressed their concerns in a statement which was read by the groupp’s leader Voice Mhone to the media at Comesa Hall in Blantyre on Tuesday.

The statement has been signed by Chairperson of Council for Non-Governmental Organisations (CONGOMA), Voice Mhone, Steven Duwa, Chairperson of Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN), Ronald Mbewe, the Vice President of Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) and  Chairperson of the National Media Institute of Southern Africa (NAMISA), Anthony Kasunda.

The organisations wonder why Parliament had also been sidelined to debate the issues and “we wonder for whose benefit was the audit report.”

“Who is in-charge of this country, why excluding our governance institutions and the people of Malawi? Is this democracy?” query the CSOs.

The group has also expressed concern over the continued suffering of ordinary Malawians by, among other things, non-abated drug and supplies stock outs in public hospitals that have become the order of the day and rising prices of goods and services on account of cash gate.

The organisations wonder that instead of sitting in office to work out a working strategy to alleviate the suffering of Malawians, President Banda is busy crowding out civil servants by distributing maize to rural masses.

The organisations have also voiced out their concerns over what they are calling unimpressive start of cash gate cases in courts which have been marred by slow pace when the nation was told there would be special measures to speed up the cases.

“At the pace we are going it will take years before the truth is known. This is a raw deal to Malawians who, as we fear, will go to the polls on 20 May 2014 without knowing who is who in this looting of public funds and may end up entrusting the same leaders who are actually at the centre of cash gate without any eventual and consequent recourse,” says the statement.

 

The NGO community has, thus, appealed to government to make the forensic audit report public by Friday, 14th of February.

The CSOs have further asked President Banda to consult with the Speaker of National Assembly, Chimunthu Banda, to convene Parliament before 24th February 2014 to thorough discuss the report and agree on the way forward.

In addition, the CSOs have asked the courts to move with speed on the cash gate cases and not adjourn cases for long periods of time under the guise of fair trial “which is unfair to the majority of Malawians.”

“The issue of cash gate has negatively affected most Malawians and as civil society, within our mandates, we have a duty to inform Malawians and empower them to make their government accountable. The power to decide the future of this country lies in the hands of Malawians.

“We also call upon all public officers handling the cash gate cases in various portfolios that they should refrain from being influenced, enticed, corrupted or induced in any way to do contrary to their job codes because the truth and the law will catch up with them sooner than later,” the statement concludes.

The CSO Grand Coalition came into being in December last year to lead the CSO advocacy, within the spirit of the coalition, on cash gate and other emerging issues in the country.

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