A development economist has said the clarification from Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), the Accountant General and FDH Bank, on the electoral body having a bank account named after the title of its controlling officer, the chief elections officer (CEO), is left wanting.
Chris Chaima Banda, a vevelopment economist and long serving British civil service technocrat, told Nyasa Times that explanations from MEC, Accountant General and FDH Bank, following reports that government transferred K4 billion into MEC CEO account on the eve of the May 21 Tripartite Elections, were not adding up.
FDH Bank in a statement seen by Nyasa Times, explained that the account was inherited from the then wholly government owned Malawi Savings Bank which FDH Financial Holdings Limited purchased in 2015.
The bank said the account was valid and met all required legal requirements for operation.
And Accountant General Sungani Mandala said besides MEC, other government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) also have bank accounts in the names of the offices of their respective controlling officers such as principal secretaries (PSs), district commissioners (DCs) and chief executive officers who are also co-signatories.
But Chaima Banda retorted: “So if it is OK to have this account so called Chief Elections Officer. So are you telling me that each parastatal CEO has accounts in their job titles. So tomorrow all Principal Secretaries and the Chief Secretary should rush to the bank and open Principal Secretary current accounts?
“So where is the President account, where is the Chief Justice account, where is the Speaker account? Malawi is the most humbled nation on earth.”
He continued: “No wonder we have an honourable title of being the poorest nation on earth. That tag is a curse, poverty cripples the mind much more than any other part of the body. “
Chaima Banda said there is need to fight “ the war against the tribal cartel of thieves.”
MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa in a separate statement said the electoral body CEO, as an officer defined in the Public Finance Management Act, is the controlling officer; hence, all the funds and resources are under his control.
Reads the statement in part: “The operational procedure is that all government funding goes into the MEC Ifmis [Integrated Financial Management and Information System] account domiciled at the Southern Region Treasury Cashier.
“For money to be transferred into the Chief Elections Officer account at FDH Bank, MEC writes the Accountant General for authorisation, justifying the amount and also the purpose and the Accountant General gives a ‘No objection’ when he is satisfied with the reasons provided.”
The statement said the K4 billion in question was duly authorised by the Accountant General.
“In March 2019, the Treasury also transferred K8.5 billion. These amounts were meant to facilitate payment of printing of ballot papers and other bills for electoral activities, and allowances for security officers, polling staff and other service providers during the polling exercise,” reads the statement.
But an economic governance expert Dr. Felix Lombe also faulted the opening of a parallel bank account defying government’s financial management system.
Lombe, who is African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (Aicc) chief executive office , described it as “a serious breach.”
Meawwhile, Malawi Congress Party secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka has said the account “must be investigated”, according to Section 20 of the Financial Crimes Act of 2016.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :