Mphwiyo to tell it all on Malawi cash-gate: Nyasa Times Exclusive

Malawi’s Treasury budget director Paul Mphwiyo, who narrowly escaped death after being shot three times in the face by merciless assailants at the gate of his Area 43 house on September 13 in the capital Lilongwe, has rubbished reports that he is part of the looting of public funds.

Investigations by Nyasa Times undercover reporters assigned to the story in Lilongwe and South Africa where Mphwiyo is currently undergoing medical attention, have revealed that the budget director knows the people who orchestrated his shooting.

But Mphwiyo, currently recupurating  after enduring an operation to have the gun bullets removed from his body and also went into surgery to have his face reconstructed after it was expansively damaged by the unvarying gunshots, was non-committal to give out names to the media in the meantime ,saying he is currently focussing on getting better first and the safety of his family.

Mphwiyo who was allegedly shot thrice in his head and on his arm by ruthless hired assassins by some top ‘government officials’ for his tough stance against financial malpractices is very saddened that some people have chosen to twist the whole thing into a political circus.

Mphwiyo: Will reveal who were behind his shooting

“This is nothing but a crime. We want nothing but justice be brought against all those involved in attempting to assassinate Mphwiyo. It is by God’s grace that he is still alive today. He knows the people who wanted him dead and they know that he knows. But the same God that saved him will surely reveal the whole truth to the Malawi nation,” one of Mphwiyo’s guardian told Nyasa Times.

‘Discrepancies’

Another impeccable source from the Ministry of Finance also confided to Nyasa Times that prior to his shooting, Mphwiyo had raised questions as to why government expenditure as reported by the Reserve Bank of Malawi was constantly higher than authorized monthly government spending by the Ministry of Finance, thus causing what he technically referred to as a huge fiscal discrepancy.

Source from Ministry of Finance confided in Nyasa Times that prior to his shooting; Mphwiyo and other directors from the Ministry of Finance organized a meeting with Reserve Bank of Malawi officials to understand the source of the difference between Treasury authorizations and expenditure recorded by the Reserve Bank of Malawi.

At the meeting, the Budget Director demanded full reconciliation of all payments made by the Accountant General’s Department and cleared by the Reserve Bank of Malawi.

The Reserve Bank of Malawi provided the requested information and unfortunately our Budget Director was shot during the same week, said the source.

The source further said that from a quick comparison of Government authorized expenditure by the Treasury against expenditure recorded by the Reserve Bank of Malawi over a period of years, it was clear to Ministry of Finance Officials that there was expenditure in the system all along that was not authorized by the Ministry of Finance.

According to authorities, this has been a common trend in government expenditure over the years that were not looked into seriously before and this was the first time that Government was getting to the root cause of such huge discrepancies and Mphwiyo was keen to get to the bottom of this.

When Techno Brain presented its report on weaknesses of the current system, it was clear that there could have been payments that could have looked legitimate without Treasury authorization and the Budget Division, in collaboration with other divisions, designed measures that were announced by the former Minister and will begin to be implemented.

The source also disclosed that, there were numerous compensation and many dubious claims running in billions, sitting at the Ministry of Finance that the Budget Director refused to pay even under pressure from top government officials.

‘Forewarned’

The Treasury source said that from the word go, some government top officials became angry with the Budget Director for his tough stance and it is believed that the disgruntled people warned him to back off or face the consequences if he continued to stand in their way.

“He was forewarned that if he continued to stand in the way he would be eliminated, but he took it as one of those empty threats, after all he was only doing his job to follow procedures. To say, he was shot because he was part of the looting is ridiculous. The attempt to take out his life purely came after he blocked their unscrupulous and deceitful deals in government,” added the Treasury source.

The budget director who escaped from the jaws of death by a whisker, according to our investigations, categorically parries away assertions by other sectors of the public that this was ‘a case of a deal gone bad’ describing them as ‘senseless’ and ‘unfair.’

He said the truth is that the Ministry of Finance, for the first time, seriously took the issue of pilferage seriously and was about to discover what was actually happening in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and he almost lost his life for being in the forefront of that fight.

‘Scam’

Our impeccable source went on to reveal that, “Nobody was eager to take it (the scam) head on before; but he did as soon as he was appointed to the position of budget director, for the system was porous and he tightened the noose and that it did not go down well with those who were benefiting from the leaky financial systems.”

According to our sources, Mphwiyo who is out of danger but still in agony and speaks with difficulty is said to be so disheartened that some people are deliberately diverting from the truth to talk a lot of ‘bad things’ against him when he is a victim in the whole cash gate saga.

“If he had played along to the looting do you think they would plot to kill him? He was only appointed as budget director in mid-July this year and you honestly believe that all the ‘stealing’ started after his appointment? Can it be possible then, therefore that the looting started soon after his appointment,” queried the Treasury Source.

Another source who claimed to be Mphwiyo’s colleague but works in a different ministry at Capital Hill alleged that Mphwiyo found a rotten system and was trying to clean up the mess and that, that is what attracted a wrath on his life.

He said his only job was to direct and coordinate activities of personnel responsible for formulation, monitoring and presentation of budgets for controlling funds to implement program objectives in government ministries and departments and at the same time to direct compilation of data based on statistical studies and analyses of past and current years to prepare budgets and in the process justify funds requested.

“As someone who correlates appropriations for specific programs with appropriations for government ministries and departments his job was to review operating budgets periodically and analyse trends affecting budget needs. Therefore, if he sees that somewhere things aren’t in order he has to question the irregularities and that’s exactly what he did,” clarified Mphwiyo’s colleague from Capital Hill.

‘Traumatised’

Our sources  said Mphwiyo will ‘talk’ to the relevant authorities when he is  fit and well, but refused to be drawn into commenting further on the issue of his shooting, saying the matter is currently under police investigation and he wouldn’t want to interfere with police work.

Those close to Mphwiyo indicates that the Budget director appears to be deeply traumatised by the shooting incident.

When put to him that Pika Manondo, one of the prime suspects in his shooting case currently in police custody who has handed himself over to the cops at Songwe Border in Karonga has implicated him as one of the key players in the cash gate scandal, Mphwiyo’s confidante at the Treasury wondered why Manondo is busy talking about the cash gate scandal and not his involvement in the shooting.

“He added that Manondo does not work for the government and, therefore, he is not qualified to talk about government and how it operates. The crime for which he has handed himself in is his involvement in attempting to assassinate the Budget Director.. It is clear that he (Pika) has someone behind him who is or was in government. He is not working on his own,” disclosed the confidante.

Adding that: “Pika (Manondo) to my knowledge has no company that has been implicated in the cash gate scandal neither is he a civil servant, so why does he seem to be so interested in government business? We will leave that for the police to establish and find out who he was working for? For now, let the police do their job professionally and get to the bottom of the matter,”

Former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara together with t hree people including Pika Manondo’s brother, Dauka and a former Malawi Army officer MacDonald Kumwembe and another person Charles Chalunda were arrested by the police in connection with Mphwiyo’s shooting.

Asked if he is ready to appear before Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) to answer issues surrounding his shooting, Mphwiyo is said to have said that he is more than willing to answer all the questions.

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