Congoma, Gender coalition ask for stake in cash-gate probe

The NGO-GCN, a network of over sixty non-governmental organizations working around gender issues, and the Council for Non-governmental Organizations in Malawi (Congoma) have said civil society must play a role in the investigations around the dizzying Cash-gate scandal.
The duo said they have asked that CSO be part of the monitoring team on the road-map, and also have meetings on the progress with/through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) as tracking processes.

Chairperson Emma Kaliya said in the first place the civil society is key to providing checks and balances to government conduct.

“Cash gate is already affecting the lives of people in Malawi. On Friday we met the State President at State House where government shared a road-map to deal with corruption for once and for all. We say that the leadership must respond effectively and that we as civil society will support the process and ensure that it is clean to the letter,” she told participants at the Sixth NGOGCN Annual General Meeting on Monday at the Mount Soche Hotel in the commercial city of Blantyre.

Kaliya:  We wet President Banda
Kaliya: We wet President Banda

On his part, chairperson for Congoma, Voice Mhone, briefed the gathering on the visit, which Kaliya said was no secret at all.

“The President committed to walk the talk, including sacrificing her own political career should need arise as she presses on in the fight against graft. She told us perhaps she was sent at this time to lead Malawi so that she could do something for Malawi, and this is taking to book all those implicated in corruption cases,” she revealed, and also wondered if this was not just mere political rhetoric.

“As CSOs, we have two spaces on which we should work extra hard. This is firstly to ensure the President deals with all culprits including the Vice President and her own children should they be incriminated as she has promised; and also to ensure to take advantage of the space to structurally deal with issues such as the appointment of the Budget Director which should not be done by the President.

“We have to take opportunity of this scenario to also help restructure the system and not the politics. Something is wrong up there and what is shocking is that when good people get to leadership they turn back to be the same rot.”

Mhone also briefed that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director talked of using current or existing laws to freeze any property suspected to have been bought ‘promiscuously’ even if it has changed hands up to ten times.

He added: “…the Ministry of Justice also asked the President for political will, in reference to his sacking during the United Democratic Front (UDF) rule of former president Bakili Muluzi era when he commented on corruption matters, that a bigger chunk of public coffers were ending up in people’s pockets.

In other words he was clearly saying he should not be fired again for doing his job without fear or favor or bias. He also promised to base his actions as well as on the Forfeiture Act, and other key graft-busting laws.”

The Auditor General, who is a new broom at the department, also informed the CSO representatives at State House that a forensic audit team was already in the country and had started working on preliminary work.

The shocking part was when the two shared two of the many incidents of clear public coffer aggrandizement by public officers, first where a six year old child is said to own a house worth K2 million and another where someone getting paid less than K18, 000 or K27, 000 a month as a government employee deposited K200 million today and withdrew K198 million from the same account two days later and the bank allowed the transaction without any questions.

Of the measures already being put in place to correct the gigantic fiscal mismanagement Malawi has ever seen includes President Joyce Banda in April asking DfID to help government with a forensic audit after she smelled a rat in the system, placing the Justice ministry, the ACB, the Fiscal Intelligence Unit (FIU), the office of the Auditor General and the Malawi Police Service (MPS) as support arms in the process.

“What also pleased us is that the President refused to have the Ministry of Information to be releasing reports on progress made in the investigations to veer off from politicizing the process,” concluded Mhone, asking the individual participants through their organisations to peruse through the shared road-map for comments to make part of the Congoma response back to the leadership by next week.

Malawi has lost more than K20 billion through corruptions and theft by both junior and senior public servants who connived with politicians and the banking sector to loot millions of tax-payers and donor money.

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