Don’t make us fail on looters, JB tells Malawi CSOs

Malawi President Joyce Banda has said her administration wants to do a good job on the investigations and prosecutions involving the looting of government finances, saying that hasty work risks costing the country more resources.

The President asked those who want government to rush the prosecutions to hold their patience and appreciate the technicalities involved in the task at hand.

She told members of the private sector during a consultative meeting also attended by Congoma chairman Voice Mhone that government was doing everything in its capacity to ensure proper investigations are done in order to guarantee successful prosecution of suspects.

Mhone is championing a campaign by some civil society organisations to pressure government to prosecute the suspects by the end December this year.

President Banda greets activist Voice Mhone

The meeting was held to brief the private sector on progress Government has made to restore confidence in the management of its finances.

Government has already held similar meetings with political parties, civil society, faith-based leaders and members of the diplomatic community.

A total of 70 people have so far been arrested in connection with the looting which has cost the taxpayer K8.9 billion.

“Government condemns in strongest terms, any act of fraud and corruption in public institutions and will wage a deliberate clean-up fight. My Government will do its best to ensure that concerns surrounding our public financial management systems are addressed, ” President Banda said.

She said there has been a lot of debate on the looting of finances in Government since the matter became public. But she said listening to it, she hears one message–that she should keep up the good fight.

Banda announced that to date 81 companies have been identified in connection with the investigations and 60 of them have already been profiled.

A total of 15 suspects have been granted bail on the K400 million case, she said.

She also reported that 50 bank accounts belonging to individuals involved in illegal Government cheque transactions have been restricted.

The European Union (EU) has facilitated the engagement of an expert in fraud and corruption cases, Kamdoni Nyasulu, a renowned lawyer, to work with the Director of Public Prosecutions  for a period of seven months.   Nyasulu will assist in case analysis and mentoring of prosecutors in the Directorate.

EU has also given Malawi MK2.7 billion, while the German Government has given Malawi MK4.73 billion for improving public finance management. Germany has given Malawi a further MK2.76 billion to support maternal and new born health. These funds will be disbursed by the end of this month.

“I am also pleased to note that the German Government will directly support governance institutions in the country including the National Audit Office.”

She reported that an initial comprehensive assessment of the IFMIS control and operational systems as well as identification of areas of significant risk of abuse and fraud has been carried out and will end in in January 2014.

“Recovery and restoration of deleted transactions from July to September 2013 has been done. A review of the system’s security gaps and recommendations for improvements has been completed.”

IFMIS was re-opened on 4th November, 2013, she announced.

The system supplier, Softech, has been engaged to temporarily perform the task of an ICT Security Officer pending the engagement of a substantive officer. All IFMIS user rights were revoked and new access rights are being granted.

Apart from administrative measures being taken in line with the Malawi Public Service Regulations (MPSR), the President said the reforms are being accelerated through a law review process on the Corrupt Practices Act, while the Asset Declaration Bill was tabled and passed in Parliament.

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