Malawi President Joyce Banda statement on ‘cash-gate’ scandal: ‘I will not shield anyone’

I have been receiving briefs on the developments in the country after the shooting of Mr. Paul Mphwiyo, the Budget Director. As much as these developments are disturbing and regardless of the smear campaign against innocent people, they will not deter me from fighting corruption, fraud and embezzlement wherever it is.

I have noted the efforts by Police, the Anti corruption Bureau and other Government Agencies in uncovering and intercepting large amounts of cash in homes, offices and vehicle boots of some individuals in the civil service.

I am aware that investigations are still under way. It is important to note that these revelations are as a result of some of the efforts by my Government is implementing to stamp out corruption, fraud and embezzlement in the public sector. I wish to call upon the nation not to panic.

We have a very able and professional Police Service and so nobody will be arrested just based on rumour and smear campaign but I will also not protect anyone.

President Dr.Joyce Banda addressing a press conference at Sanjika palace in Blantyre.Picture by Francis Mphweya-MANA.

President Dr.Joyce Banda addressing a press conference at Sanjika palace in Blantyre.Picture by Francis Mphweya-MANA.

It is therefore important that I put the recent developments in perspective so that the nation comes to know and appreciate the real truth behind these developments.

PREAMBLE

It is a known fact that the challenge of corruption has been before us for a long time. For Example, under the United Democratic Front (UDF) administration, the Director of Public Prosecutions then, announced that 30% of our national budget was being lost through fraud and corruption.

The same was the case under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).  The recent K61 Billion saga and the K404 million found in the personal bank account of a junior officer in 2011 woke me up to the plunder going on in government.

There are reports that the investigations into the K404 million case were stopped by some government officials, and I wish to ask that these investigations resume. It is obvious that huge amounts of public funds have been lost through corruption and theft within the public service, and regrettably this still continuing.

In this regard, I had a meeting with the Minister of Finance and the Secretary to Treasury at Kamuzu Palace to discuss the flaws in the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) and my concerns. Some of our development partners expressed the willingness to support the review process of the IFMS.

I gave the Minister of Finance four weeks to do the following:

  •    Come up with a review plan for improving financial management of Government resources;
  •   Immediately close up loop holes for siphoning such huge sums of money.

I further assigned the Deputy Minister of Finance to focus on auditing Government Ministries and Departments on the use of resources and how Government can effectively draw down the US$500 Million standing to our credit from the World Bank as I was informed that many Ministries and Departments were failing to fully account for the World Bank funded projects to allow them recoup for further funding, due to weak capacity at Ministry Level and Department Level.

Furthermore, I directed the Attorney General to fast track the finalisation of the Declaration of the Asset Bill and ensure that it was brought before Parliament this coming sitting in November.

I further directed the Attorney General to consult stakeholders on broadening the officials to declare assets and related matters to contain fraud and corruption in the public sector.

I am also of the view that all those receiving money on behalf of ordinary people e.g.: NGOs Foundations, Churches should be called upon to be accountable and transparent.

I informed the nation about some of these measures on 7th September 2013 in my speech during the Economics Association of Malawi annual conference in Mangochi.

I am informed that the Budget Director, wrote a letter to the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Commissioner General for the need to profile tax status of every creditor before payment was effected by Treasury and I have confirmed this with the MRA Commissioner General.

While still addressing these matters, on Sunday morning of 14th September 2013, I received information that the Budget Director, Mr. Paul Mphwiyo, has been shot. On that same day, while attending an Ijitima Function in Blantyre, I expressed shock and concern over this incident, because I knew there were certain people that were not happy with my anti-corruption drive and instructed that Government makes arrangements for him to be airlifted to South Africa for further medical attention.

I am pleased to report that the Budget Director has been discharged and I think it will be important for him to tell us what happened.

On Monday morning, the 16th of September, 2013 I called the Auditor General, and the Chief Secretary to Government to State House to discuss two issues.  One issue was on the Security for the Auditor General and to ask the Auditor General to do his job without fear or favour and to issue approval for payment only when he is satisfied of the legality of the payment.

On the same Monday morning, 16th of September I invited four members of delegation from the Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Services, Malawi Prisons Services and the National Intelligence Bureau to Kamuzu Palace to  discus with them the security situation in the country and the issues surrounding the shooting of the Budget Director.

It was an important meeting for me as it revealed so many things to me.

During the meeting, it was decided that the Malawi Police Service will intensify the sweeping exercise and the investigations on this matter while the other security agencies will reinforce those efforts.

Later that morning, after consultations, it became necessary to strengthen the management at the Malawi Police Service and I made some new appointments including Mr. Bophani as Deputy Inspector General of Police, whose area of expertise is Criminal Investigation.

Following the shooting of the Budget Director, I knew that the fight against corruption and theft in the public service was truly underway and syndicates have now been unearthed. Relevant state machineries mandated to fight graft and theft are now investigating the syndicates to track the people involved.

I have left the matter with the Police, the ACB and other state agencies to continue with the investigations without political interference. I want to congratulate these agencies for their work so far.

In concluding, I wish to inform the nation that:

  1. I have directed the Attorney General to present to Cabinet an urgent review the Asset Declaration Bill and it should be tabled before Parliament in the November sitting.
  2. I have agreed with the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service that a Crime Committee be instituted in the police service to be chaired by the Deputy Inspector General Mr. Bophani and that he will lead in these investigations.
  3. I have asked that Parliament should meet earlier than November.
  4. Tomorrow, Thursday 10th September, 2013, Cabinet will  meet and I will receive briefing on these recent developments.
  5. I have asked the ACB, Police, NIB and other state organs for regular reports to me on their work and findings on these issues and the nation will be informed of the decisions that I will take after receiving these briefings.

It is a known fact that the challenge of corruption has been before us for a long time. This fight therefore should be for every Malawian particularly those of us in leadership regardless of our political parties.

I am committed to fight corruption and fraud wherever it exists and it will be exposed.

Those who are resisting change; those who are undermining my efforts and my economic recovery programme; those who are fighting the poor; those who are fighting the principles of a clean government will be exposed wherever they are.

It is a well known fact that those involved are very few compared to the large number of dedicated civil servants that work hard and are honest.

My commitment to all Malawians is that I will serve them and defend their interests, and I will work with the good citizens of this country to root out this evil in order that we may grow and develop into a more prosperous nation, with a better future for all.

 

I thank you

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