Two computers which contained all key information relating to abuse of public funds at embassies and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation are missing at Capital Hill.
Nyasa Times understands that the computers were stolen from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation which is heavily guarded.
The two contained all communication between the foreign missions for Malawi ; communication of accounts, finances and that between governments and international organisations .
They were used by Principal Secretary in the Ministry before Ben Botolo was deployed as the new PS at Foreign Affairs and the other one was for the secretary.
The development comes after a National Audit Office (NAO) audit has revealed that about K444 million has been abused at Foreign Affairs ministry.
The audit, covering the 2017/18 financial year indicates that at the ministry headquarters in Lilongwe, they identified unverified external travel allowances amounting to K165 million, expenditure on cancelled air tickets amounting to K16.6 million, payment of external travel allowances on a fully-funded trip at K7.6 million, external travel allowances paid for a trip not undertaken by the former PS in the ministry at K301 370.04 and unaccounted for fuel of K29 million.
The final audit has disclosed weaknesses in financial and internal controls both at the ministry headquarters and embassies to an extent that millions were paid for activities that did not exist and incidences of money paid but not for intended purpose.
The results of the audit, apparently vindicates findings of an internal audit done at the Malawi Embassy in Ethiopia in 2016 which then pegged the fraudulent transactions at K293 million or $406 206.15.
In May 2016, police arrested then Malawi Deputy Ambassador to Ethiopia Doreen Kapanga and First Secretary for Administration and Finance at the mission, Fletcher Chowe, in connection with the said transactions.
The audit report implicates, among others, a former Principal Secretary (PS) in the ministry as the controlling officer at the time, a senior accounts clerk at the ministry’s headquarters and three officers at the Malawi Embassy in Ethiopia.
Governance expert Makhumbo Munthali is on record to have observed that the absence of a clear comprehensive policy and legal framework regulating recruitment in the foreign service has contributed in making foreign service as one of the messed up areas of public service hence the continued chaos.
“It is interesting to note that despite having one of its key strategic objectives of fulfilling its mandate in public service being to establish a career diplomatic service that will entail placement in the foreign service of high calibre personnel with capability to facilitate and coordinate economic activities in the best interest of the nation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have done very little in translating this objective into action,” he told Nyasa Times recently.
He pointed out that the Foreign Service has often been used as a rewarding platform for political cronies and relatives of the government of the day.
“ In some cases, it has been used as an appeasement tool to silence some critics of government whose children or daughters have been recruited in the Foreign Service,” said Munthali
He also said there is a perception that for one to find him or herself in foreign service he or she must be ethnically or politically connected to the regime of the day.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :