Atupele faults Malawi gov’t over ‘systematic cover-up’ in cashgate role

The United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi told a news conference in Blantyre on Monday that action plans taken by the Joyce Banda’s administration in dealing with the cashgate are mere cover-up since the President and her Cabinet have not taken responsibility of the crisis.

Atupel has since asked President Banda to devise “a clear action plan” vetted by Malawians to address the looting of public resources at Capital Hill with both politicians and technocrats.

“How can one withdraw, say K2.5 billion, from the public pulse without the knowledge of the President or the Minister of Finance? If they did not know, then it signals failure by the current government to manage public funds,” said the UDF torch bearer in May 2014 presidential elections.

Atupele , who dumped the Joyce Banda government as Minister of Economic Planning, said “Cashgate crisis” has tarnished Malawi’s image.

Atupele: Arrests of civil servants is a mere cover-up on cashgate scam

“It has demonstrated that as a nation, we have failed to manage our public resources, especially those meant for ordinary Malawians who need them the most,” he said.

According to the UDF president, Malawi has shown that even after years of democratic transition, “our political system is in fact regressing.”

He said: “What we have built appears to be a political system that continues to allow the privileged few, to consume state resources for their own private use while disregarding the voices of ordinary people.”

Atupele also said the cashgate scandal has had a knock on effect on investor opportunities and in turn, prospects for growth.

“It has eroded public trust and it has also resulted into disproportionate suffering of ordinary Malawians due to increased cost of living, fewer drugs in hospitals, unpaid civil servants, break down of social services and collapse of small scale businesses,” he said.

Atupele said: “The fact that there is no clear strategy on the part of the Government, other than grand public relations efforts, attempting to demonstrate that it is managing this Crisis; is most worrying. It signals serious impunity and that those responsible would not be sanctioned.”

He accused government of operating under “a business as usual mode” despite cashgate being “ a grave issue for Malawi and Malawians.”

Said Atupele: “ It suggests that [Banda’s administration] perceives this crisis as not exceptional. This is absolutely unacceptable. “

He also noted: “It is surprising to suggest that the Government only understood the scale of the problem in the last few months” adding that “any Government that assumes office starts off with a clear diagnostic of issues at hand.”

During the news conference, Atupele also demanded that government should come up with a public-friendly revised budget that reflects expenditure cuts, savings and measures “ to cushion ordinary Malawians from effects of budgetary re-alignments, in light of a declining revenue base.”

But Minister of Information and Civic Education Brown Mpinganjira has said government consulted widely with civil society organisations (CSOs), development partners, business community and faith groups on the action plan aimed at dealing with looting and looters of public funds, dismissing UDF calls as “empty”.

Mpinganjira also claimed all stakeholders were consulted on the revised budget.

The cashgate crisis came into the light after the shooting of then Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo on September 13 this year.

The crisis has seen government losing $150 million (about K60 billion) in budget support from donors under the Common Approach to Budget Support (Cabs).

UDF press conference on cashgate

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