Malawi’s Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Samuel Tembenu, on Friday told parliament that there is “no really such thing as K92 billion cashgate”; backing Auditor General (AG) Stephenson Kamphasa that it was merely an “audit query”.
The AG explained that the K92 billion Cashgate “ remains an audit query requiring further investigation in order to substantiate the transactions validity.”
As part of the Bingu wa Mutharika-era Cashgate, the National Audit Office (NAO) named 54 firms that received about K6.3 billion in suspicious payments from the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
Some of the notable transactions whose value for money NAO could not ascertain include 17 payments to an electrical firm amounting to K1.8 billion; nine payments to another company worth about K1.2 billion; two payments of K150 million to a security equipment supplier; six payments of K123 million to a pharmaceutical firm belonging to a well-known Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sympathiser and financier.
An analysis of the company names shows that most of the firms appearing in the Mutharika-era audit report are also featuring in the Cashgate investigations conducted since September last year.
Presenting a ministerial statement on the Baker Tilly forensic audit final report, told parliament that “here was ample opportunity for the previous government to do something -on the K92 billion audit query – yet nothing was done.”
He said President Peter Mutharika directed after winning May 20 elections that the audit be completed and appointed a ministerial committee chaired by Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe.
The Justice Minister said the committee have had meeting and discussion with Auditor General and government encouraged NAO to engage private auditing firms.
“Treasury will make funds available to the Auditor General to complete the audit,” said Tembenu
He appealed to members of parliament to “refrain from politicising these issues and allow experts to do their work without unnecessary political pressure.”
Tembenu assured that government “will not interfere with that audit investigations.”
Malawi Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee chairperson Alekeni Wodala Menyani when presented a report to Parliament on Tuesday September 30 on its review and analysis of the previous committee’s investigations into Cashgate, said after further scrutiny, the interim report found that the actual amount lost was K87 985 808 616.82 and not K92 billion.
Menyani further said that some departments were not audited during the exercise which was abandoned in the middle.
Among the ministries and departments that were not audited include Office of President and Cabinet, National Assembly, Office of Vice President, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Department of Human Resources and Development and Ministry of Transport and Public Works.
He said the committee has resolved to summon both the Accountant General and Chief Secretary to Government to get updates and progress reports on the actions taken against the culprits in the misappropriation.
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