Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has been given a green light by Treasury to probe Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) after a special investigative audit of MEC has been declared conclusive that found that there was gross financial mismanagement and flouting of procurement and recruitment procedures under the leadership of chief elections officer Willie Kalonga between July 2012 and December 2014.
Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani observed that his office has “carefully considered” findings of the final audit which exposed “worrisome violations” of the Public Finance Management Act [PFMA] 2003.
In a summary of the findings of the audit – conducted by the Central Internal Audit Unit under the Ministry of Finance -, it is reported that the commission’s management, among others, authorised bank transfers worth K118 667 404. 44 ($208 188) to unknown bank accounts, invested K398 040 000 ($698 316) without commissioners’ written approval and paid out external travel allowances to commissioners and senior officers amounting to K15 422 756 ($27057) for a trip allegedly not undertaken.
Mangani has asked the electoral body to take appropriate disciplinary measures in dealing with officials involved in violation of the Public Finance Management Act.
He has also furnished with ACB the final audit for their action.
The audit was carried “because MEC’s large budget vis a vis the national budget posed a higher fiscal risk”.
On procurement, the auditors reported that they did not find evidence of a claim of payment for supply of goods by a Tanzanian company, SCI, amounting to K16.6 million; goods procured outside procurement plan and budget amounting to K40.6 million and procurement without Office of the Director of Public Procurement amounting to K526.6 million.
According to the executive summary of the audit report, MEC top management misused or failed to satisfactorily explain how about K1.5 billion ($2,727,272) was used on several activities.
Among the several queries include payments CEO Willie Kalonga paid to himself amounting to K2.2 million ($4000) for a personal trip to his private study graduation without the approval of the commission.
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafuliwa is on record saying the allegations of financial abuse has “greatly damaged the image of the commission as a public body that can be trusted to manage its purse prudently.”
Mwafulirwa, however, said MEC is committed to reforms in its financial management systems that will ensure prudence.
“On corporate governance, the commission established a fully-fledged internal audit department and also an internal audit committee. The commission has also guided that apart from the periodic audits by the National Audit Office, its account books will also be audited by private auditors.
“These steps are being taken to demonstrate that its commitment to ensure that any government penny is used for its intended purpose,” MCP spokesman recently told Weekend Nation.
Mwafuliwa had said MEC will not go to the public and defend material detail, but will wait for the final audit report.
“Should the final audit report substantiate irregularities, the commission is committed to taking an appropriate action,” he said.
Mid last month, MEC sacrificed director of finance Khumbo Phiri, who was sent on forced leave in the wake of an investigative audit.
Phiri expressed “surprise” with MEC for making him a sacrificial lamb when he has not been mentioned by the auditors in their report for wrong doing.
He said “someone is really trying very hard to conceal the real findings of the auditors.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :