Malawi Police and graft busting body, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) say they are awaiting government instructions to act on the infamous Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development cashgate.
Police headquarters spokesman Nicholas Gondwa said the law enforcers cannot affect arrest on the 74 officials without a formal complaint.
“The office of the auditor general or relevant government department should lodge a formal complaint if we are to prosecute the suspects. We cannot move on our own,” said Gondwa.
He however said the police are following the developments on the issue with keen interest.
ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba said the bureau is discussing on whether to pounce on the case or not.
“We don’t have to receive a formal complaint from anyone for us to prosecute the case. The media reports are enough for us to prosecute the suspects but we have to wait and see if the case is within our mandate for prosecution.
“We have also to wait and see if no other state prosecuting agency is taking up the case. Very soon we will come up with our clear stance on the matter,” said Matemba.
The 74 ministry of Agriculture employees and 36 others from other government departments and ministries are accused of drawing double salaries and in some cases triple salaries and allowances from the ministry.
Theft includes accountants, economists, IT experts and other technical personnel from the ministry.
Spokesperson from Ministry of Agriculture, Hamilton Chimala confirmed to Nyasa Times in emailed statement that the ministry has interdicted 74 agriculture technical officers for suspected embezzlement of funds and fraud following an audit by the Ministry’s Central Internal Audit unit.
“The officers are interdicted without pay and are not allowed to travel outside Malawi without due authorisation of the Ministry in accordance with the Malawi Public Service Regulations,” said Chimala.
“The Ministry has also recommended for interdiction to specific controlling officers from its mainstream a total of 31 support staff officers in the Human Resource, Financial and IT services on similar suspicion.
“These practises were masterminded from Ministry Headquarters, Kasinthula and Chitedze research stations as well as Shire Valley Agricultural Development Division,” Chimala said.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture will continue its “zero tolerance” on cashgate activities and seek to eliminate “all forms of financial mismanagement and fraud in its quest to help government turn Malawi into an investment driven economy.”
On how much has been embezzled, Chimala said the figure is in “millions of Kwacha” and not billions, saying finer details will be disclosed following conclusion of other administrative technicalities.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :