Arrest of key suspect is game changer on Malawi ‘cashgate’ scandal

The arrest of the Assistant Accountant Frank Mwanza in the Office of the President and Cabinet in connection to the Capitol Hill ‘cashgate’ scandal has been described as a game changer in the ongoing crackdown on financial maladministration as it has transpired that Mwanza is directly connected to almost K120 million cash which was found in a car boot of one Oswald Lutepo.

The cash revelation in Lutepo’s possession was a genesis of the whole scandal.

Malawi graft bursting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested Mwanza after investigations revealed that the man was responsible for a dubious payment of more than K1 billion to a bogus company.

Nyasa Times investigations have also revealed that the company which was being used to make the bogus payment International Procurement Services (IPS) is owned by some of Malawi government top government officials and has connections to some of the cabinet ministers.

Egritta Ndala: Suspects on bail
Egritta Ndala: Suspects on bail

ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala in an interview confirmed that Mwanza’s arrest is directly connected to the K120 million found by “an officer from the Accountant General’s Office in August 2013.”

“The investigations found that on 26th August, 2013,  Frank Mwanza,  An Assistant Accountant in the OPC made three payment vouchers that resulted into payment of over K1 billion to IPS,” said Ndala.

She added: “It also established that Frank Mwanza tampered with information about the three transactions in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS). The Bureau also established that there was no contract between Government and IPS.”

Mwanza has since been charged with corrupt performance of functions by a public officer and abuse of office.

According to Ndala after the arrest the Bureau officers went to search his house and found him with cash amounting to K1.3 million Kwacha.

OPC and State House insiders have described the arrest of Mwanza as a tipping or breaking point in the ‘cashgate’ scandal.

The inside sources revealed that IPS belongs to Lutepo, and was initially co-owned by Minister of Gender Anita Kalinde, who left the company after entering into Cabinet with a ploy that the company should be supplying services to her ministry and being paid without supplying anything.

The sources further said that the dubious payments to IPS were being authorised by a Mr Njanji, a Principal Secretary of Finance in the OPC.

Revelations was show that apart from OPC vote, there have been huge dubious sums of money also being drawn from the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) vote with both having negative balances.

OPC budget is said to have been overdrawn by K897,700,100 while the MDF one is K1,360,240,120.00 in the red as of September 26, 2013. This means that the two accounts can no longer get any funding from treasury.

“Part of this money was being used to purchase Soya from farmers, an exercise which was being personally supervised by Mr. Njanji,” said the source.

This is the fifth suspect to be arrested in the ‘cashgate’ scandal.

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