Malawi President Peter Mutharika has said he is ready to take action on his cronies implicated in the mismanagement of the public funds.
The Mutharika- led government has of late come under heavy criticism that it has now pressed on the overdrive looting gear as if things have fallen apart; as if the ship has hit a huge ice berg and the crooks are hustling and scuffling to grab the little that’s left in this corruption ravaged southern African country.
Seven cabinet ministers are reported to be implicated in the K577 billion (about $856 million) financial analysis report of what has been dubbed the Capital Hill ‘cash-gate’ scandal, named after the seat of government.
Mutharika speaking on MBC TV’s “Talk to the President” programme insisted that he too was awaiting the release of the cashgate names so that the necessary investigations coud be initiated.
He added that he had not received any names in connection with the audit query as yet.
“Last week I sent Chief Secretary to Auditor General [to get names] b,” said Mutharika, adding that he did not have any name of a minister.
“Where they [media] get the names I don’t know,”he said.
“If anybody has got names please bring them to State House, I would like to see them and action will be taken,”Mutharika said after being asked by one citizen during the program when he will act on the rotten ministers and cronies.
Mutharika came under increasing pressureto sack the seven senior cabinet ministers, after a contradictory statement from State House, saying that Mutharika was refusing to fire them
The President said he will deal decisively with corrupt ministers when he gets a report implicating them.
But despite names of the Cashgate suspects being kept under wraps by the Auditor General, Stepheson Kamphasa, the details of individuals allegedly implicated have been coming out in public domain .
Social media is awash with the names that include Mutharika’s strong man, Agriculture Minister George Chaponda, Mutharika’s right hand-man, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, and Mutharika’s inner circle of Labour Minister Henry Mussa as being among the seven.
In parliament, Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire (PP) mentioned leader of the house George Chaponda as one of the rotten ministers .
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.
Given Malawi’s political patronage system, it is highly unlikely that President Mutharika will put his trusted ministers in the dock .
Political analysts claim that Mutharika’s reluctance to crackdown on the corrupt gangasters in cabinet was due to his own brother, late President Bingu wa Mutharika, being implicated in the scandal.
Leadership, like fish, rots from the head downwards to the tail. If the tail begins to smell bad, then know the head is rotten to the core or is no longer there at all.
So many corrupt officials remain free with delays in prosecutions, that the first person to be convicted, Treza Namathanga Senzani, is due to soon be released after serving her three-year sentence for fraud.
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