Malawi govt insists ‘foreign elements’ behind anti-JB demo

Malawi government has maintained its stand that activists of working with “foreign elements” to promote instability and an agenda of regime change.

On Tuesday Brown Mpinganjira, who is Minister of Information and Civic Education, in an interview with private-owned Zodiak Broadcasting Services accused the West of bankrolling civil society activists to hold mass protests over the cashgate corruption scandal and reports that proceeds of jet vanished.

He said the West were trying to use the same plots of insurrections which brought down the government of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

Mpinganjira:  We know them

Mpinganjira: We know them

Nyasa Times reported that insiders have tipped that amongst the envoys being accused are British and United States government.

But government reacted with a statement issued by Ministry of Information which was not signed, saying Lilongwe “stands by its statement that there are foreign elements involved in the impending demonstrations.”

However, the statement said, government spokesman did not mention any envoy be it the British or any other as mentioned by Nyasa Times.

“In this regard the government is informing the public to disregard the Nyasa Times report and assumptions,” said the statement.

Nyasa Times editorial maintained that it was attaching weight to the credibility of inside sources that the accused envoys included the British diplomat.

Malawi government nonetheless said: “The position of the Malawi Government remains irrevocable in as far as the mention of foreign elements is concerned.

“We are of the strong view that the demonstrations are unnecessary since the demonstrations can create a very unstable society.”

The planned demonstrations comes after a British-funded forensic audit into the massive plunder of the Malawi government coffers has uncovered that over 13 billion Malawi kwacha (over US$ 30 million) was looted by politicians, business persons and civil servants.

The audit, conducted by British accounting firm, Baker Tilly, covered the period between April 2012 and September 2013. Coincidentally President Banda took over power on 7 April, 2012, following the sudden death two days earlier from cardiac arrest complications of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The release of the report’s findings is not expected to be sufficient for donors to resume aid to the country. Up to 40 per cent of Malawi’s annual budget is donor-funded.

A spokesman for the UK’s Department for International Development, Malawi’s biggest donor, said the report’s findings showed “why the UK took the right decision in 2013 to freeze direct aid”.

The spokesman added that no further direct aid would be sent until the government clamped “firmly down on corruption”.

“We are deeply concerned by the breadth and depth of corruption revealed and it is ordinary Malawians who are ultimately paying the price,” the spokesman said as quoted by the Financial Times newspaper in London.

“It is clear these losses would not have been uncovered without the determination of the Malawi government but the findings are so serious that Malawi must now take urgent action to bring the culprits to justice and restore confidence in its finances.”

The scandal unravelled in September last year after the attempted assassination of the finance ministry Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo, who was reportedly on an anti-corruption crusade in government. Just days before, a junior civil servant was found with stacks of cash totalling more than US$300,000 in the boot of his car.

More cash was confiscated from some civil servants’ homes and car boots.

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