Bingu haunted with past Comesa role, to take over chairmanship

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is expected to be elected the new chairperson of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) at the end of regional body’s summit on October 15 in Lilongwe.

A two-day Heads of State and Government summit to be held under the theme, “Harnessing Science and Technology for Development”, starts on October 14 before Malawi takes over the leadership on the final day after handing over the African Union chairmanship in January this year.

Comesa Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya, hopes the Mutharika chairmanship, will take Comesa to greater heights considering that President Mutharika was the architect of the treaty that established the regional body. He then served as Secretary General.

However, Mutharika past record with Comesa still haunts him as he was fired from regional body after a report uncovered a number of gross inefficiencies where it described his management style as “lacking ability to mould and motivate a dedicated management team”.

Mutharika: Was fired at Comesa for abuse

It was also established that Mutharika displayed a flagrant disregard for protocol and frequently breached the provisions of the Treaty, the Staff and Financial Rules and Regulations.

He was also accused of misusing funds and abuse of office. The report paints a picture of gross insubordination to the COMESA Council of Ministers whom he considered below his own position.

“In view of the spite demonstrated to the decisions of the council and his breach of the conditions of his compulsory leave, the Committee recommends that the services of the Secretary General be terminated forthwith as he lacks vision to take COMESA into the next century,” the report concluded.

The report, which Nyasa Times has in possession, says the council of Ministers resolved at its extraordinary meeting held in Lusaka from 16th to 17th January 1997 to establish a Special Committee of five eminent persons to investigate into and prepare a comprehensive investigative audit and management report for the period beginning 1992 to 1997, after noting with concern the overall state of affairs at COMESA during Mutharika reign.

The council was particularly concerned with the finances and management of the COMESA Secretariat, the poor implementation record of the decisions of policy organs by the Secretariat, and the lack of corrective action by Mutharika despite repeated reminders by the council.

The committee was chaired by Emmanuel Maposa Hachipuka of Zambia while other members were John Muhaise-Bikale-mesa from Uganda, Dan Ameyo from Kenya, Jean-Jacques Mambe Ngala Masseke from Zaire and Pjibian Mashingaidze of Zimbabwe and was signed on March 3, 1997, in Lusaka, Zambia at the COMESA Headquarters.

The committee established that there was ample evidence of financial malpractices as Mutharika used COMESA funds to finance missions that could not be confirmed to be official and beneficial to COMESA itself. He also used COMESA resources for his own personal activities unrelated to his own office.

President Mutharika will take over the leadership from Swaziland’s King Mswati who has been the chair of the 19-member country body for a year following the summit hosted by his country last year.

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