Mbendera, Commissioners won’t resign despite ‘fraud’ report at Malawi Electoral Commission

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Justice Maxon Mbendera, has refused to resign over allegations of “management fraud” in flouting of procurement and recruitment procedures at the institution between July 2012 and December 2014.

Justice Maxon Mbendera: MEC accused of management fraud

Justice Maxon Mbendera: MEC accused of management fraud

Nyasa Times reported that a special investigative audit conducted following allegations of financial mismanagement and fraud indicates that MEC had poor financial management controls and that the commission procured and spent resources outside its budget; recruited staff without following procedures;  made procurements without following regulations and disposed of 26 vehicles in a non-procedural manner.

But speaking at the opening of a course on Demarcation and Elections at Malawi Sun Hotel on Monday, Justice Mbendera was in denial of the audit report, saying it was a ploy to “tarnish the image” of him personally and the other Commissioners.

The training is targeting Commissioners of MEC, secretaries general and directors of elections for political parties.

The fraud allegations in the report before the Secretary to the Treasury and donor community, continued to diminish the reputation of MEC and public confidence in its leadership.

But Mbendera refuse to heed calls to step down in the best interest of the commission so that the investigations can proceed with the credibility that is needed.

He said the report was not conclusive and vows to fight to save his image.

But one comment posted on Nyasa Times challenged Mbendera to understand that he holds two public offices –a Supreme Court judge and MEC chair – both of which require that he be held accountable.

“You must be the first to welcome the audit and provide support to the auditors. You can of course defend yourself where necessary, but do not come here to silence citizens. If you do not want to account, resign, which is long overdue. No one will miss you, you’ve done enough damage already,” reads the comment.

Commissioner Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri also said the report is not final and deny any wrong doing of the commissioners.

“These are allegations that are aimed at diverting public attention from the current myriad of problems Malawi is facing,” said Chimkwita Phiri.

He said the current commission struggled to clear similar fraud allegation of the previous commission which dented the electoral body’s image to the corporating partners.

Phiri fears the current allegation will affect its position to feed support from donors.

According to audit findings, MEC made bank transfers amounting to K118 667 404.44 to some unknown accounts; and paid out K15 422 756 in external travel allowances to commissioners and senior officers for trips that were not undertaken.

Other findings of financial mismanagement included personal loans paid from operation accounts without evidence of repayment K39 922 286.00 which were reportedly paid to commissioners and other senior managers at MEC.

A K16 million gratuity paid from operation funds is also a bone of contention as well as use of MEC funds on unapproved travel that cost K2 228 975.00; unjustified hiring of motor vehicles for the commission’s chief executive officer Willie Kalonga at K7 043 662, and overlapping subsistence allowances amounting to K4 688 000.00.

The audit also referred to an ad hoc expenditure on borrowing of lamps and tents from Zimbabwe during the elections which the auditors found was not provided for in the MEC budget.

The auditors also suspected under-valuation of a vehicle for the chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera whose repair costs were assessed at K1.4 million, but valuation was pegged at K1.5 million and Kalonga’s vehicle, whose repair costs were assessed at K396 854 but valuation was pegged at K350 000.

“The audit team made an effort to enquire from [the car dealer] in order to establish the cause of under-valuation which was below or almost equal to assessed repair cost.

“But the official who signed the valuation forms [at the car dealer] deliberately avoided meeting the auditors,” reads the report.

MEC’s head of public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa and Chief Elections Officer Kalonga also said they would wait for the “final report” from the auditors which would contain the commission’s responses to the auditors’ queries.

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Nyirongo Batwell
Guest

Ever since 20 May Nyasatimes hates Maxon Mbendera. Tell us how fraud happened without accounts or finance personnel. Why are you so silent on finance people. Who facilitated these fraudulent activities?

anzeru
Guest
Lord Jesus we need your devine intervention on this. A lot has really been said. But the question is where on earth can an Audit reveal a Fraud issue without any involvement of Finance office??? Procurement office?? What do I make out this – WITCH HUNTING!!!!!! WITCH HUNTERS and nothing else. Mtima oyipa uwu. I have been working in Finance Dept myself for over 20yrs. No Fraud can exist without the Hand of Treasury-finance personnel. Mukufuna mupusitse ndani with your fake revelation – Zolengatu izi. Amalawi tamatsekukani maso!!! Palibe Fraud ingachitike popanda munthu wa ku Finance except – (Fake, man-made,… Read more »
Angoni
Guest

Asiye sikono….????????

Denguzman
Guest

Mutayeni Mbendera ntchito iyi anachita kuyililira misozi and sangalore kupanga resign coz misozi yake sanamalize kuyipuputa.

belekiya
Guest

As a learned Justice, Mbendera knows that if there are allegations, one needs to honourably step aside and allow for investigations and if he is proved innocent, he gets back to the chair. Refusing the course of justice mens accepting wrong doing. Even in Chichewa, we say kutsutsa galu nkukumba. Bwana Mbendera, allow us to dig and you shall be vindicated

Jacob ngwira
Guest

Natalia,
God will hold you responsible for your statements . You don’t call people names just like that .
Instant judgment is upon you. You will die within three weeks

Bwanoni
Guest

Mbendera stole the election for his DPP and now Money!

Natalia
Guest

Mbendera , fake Pastor Chimkwita and Kalonga must resign to pave way for investigation. If you look at MEC carefully you will see that 3 people are always on top of defending it .this 3 are natural crooks . Mbendera is not straight forward . Chimkwita ndiuyu mbusa okonda kuchinda akazi an eni in the name of Jesus . Kalonga mbava ask DFID anaonongako .ACB ntchito iyo

Faggie mangulenje
Guest
Let’s sober up and be objective. MEC has a whole dept of finance headed by a Director, what was his role in this saga? The report talks about unreliable reconciliations, is this Mbendera’s responsibility? The report says MEC does not maintain a cash book, is this Mbendera ‘s responsibility? The report talks of advances not being deducted? Is this Mbendera’s responsibility ? The report talks about duplications in travel allowances, is this Mbendera’s responsibility? There are so many other areas where the Finance department has been faulted and analysts don’t appears to mention them. To me the problem is the… Read more »
peter
Guest

What was Mbendera doing if some sections were not ticking? I thought he is chair and need to take responsibility? Otherwise, why should we have a board/board chair if they cant provide guidance on how to transact? If we agree as a nation that the leadership of MEC should not take responsibility then we must abolish all leadership positions starting with the executive, judiciary and parliament. We should go back to our times before civilisation!!!

machonisa
Guest

Mbendera ndi mbava yoopsa. Akufunai akhalebe ku MEC kuti adzaberenso chisankho cha 2019.

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