UK won’t resume Malawi aid until justice on cashgate –DfID

Malawi’s biggest donor, Britain has said will not be able to resume aid support  until the  government clamped “firmly down on corruption”.

Malawi has been rocked by the plunder of public resources, known as Capital Hill Cashgate scandal.

A forensic audit report by British auditors showed this week that K13 billion ($30 million) was stolen in six months from April to September in 2013.

 Sarah Sanyahumbi:  We need to regain confidence

Sarah Sanyahumbi: We need to regain confidence

But a spokesman for the UK’s Department for International Development (Dfid), has said the release of the report’s findings is not expected to be sufficient for donors to resume aid to the country.

Dfid spokesman is quoted in UK’s Financial Times newspaper saying an audit report’s findings showed “why the UK took the right decision in 2013 to freeze direct aid”.

“We are deeply concerned by the breadth and depth of corruption revealed and it is ordinary Malawians who are ultimately paying the price,” the Dfid spokesman said as quoted by the paper.

“It is clear these losses would not have been uncovered without the determination of the Malawi government but the findings are so serious that Malawi must now take urgent action to bring the culprits to justice and restore confidence in its finances.”

Donors had only resumed aid to Malawi in 2012 after President Joyce Banda took office, following a souring of relations during late Bingu wa Mutharika’s term. He had been accused of becoming increasingly autocratic and Banda inherited a dire economic situation, with the country suffering from severe fuel and foreign exchange shortages.

Malawi’s donors under Common Approach to Budgetary Support (CABS) clearly declared that it will take time for them to resume budgetary aid to the donor dependent nation.

Head of Dfid in Malawi, Sara Sanyahumbi, said donors will only resume aid support after they have regained confidence with the government financial systems.

However, Malawi government spokesman, Brown Mpinganjira is on record criticising Western donors for withholding aid after the government exposed corruption, saying it could prompt other African leaders to stop fighting graft fearing they will lose funds.

“The government does not understand the decision taken by donors to withhold support because the [Malawi President] Joyce Banda administration has exposed fraud and corruption in the civil service,” Information Minister Mpinganjira said.

“Instead of people supporting the president for exposing corruption, they are busy withholding support. With this do you see some African leaders exposing corruption in their countries?” he asked.

Mpinganjira said: “This could have been a time when all well-wishers could come forward and support president Banda since she had thrown a first stone.”

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