Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has scoffed at calls for his resignation over K4 billion allocation made to parliamentarians during the Mid-Term Budget Review Meeting as the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) accuses leaders of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) of the plot to champion the breakup of the country.
CSOs’ representatives, Gift Trapence, who is also Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director, said the CSOs were not impressed by Gondwe’s explanations when they met him on Friday and still want him to resign or President Peter Mutharika to fire him alongside Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa.
The two ministers are accused of the allocation which Parliament authorised after Malawi News revelations that it had initially targeted lawmakers who support government agenda, and then it was shared to all 193 members despite opposition calls that the transaction was fraudulent.
“Why should I resign? When you have done no wrong, you don’t resign. They [CSOs] agree that I have not done anything illegal,” said Gondwe after meeting the CSOs.
Gondwe insists that he acted within the law and therefore those calling for his resignation are just out to tarnish my his name, saying he clearly explained facts of the matter to the CSOs and they agree that the money has not been disbursed and that the transaction is not illegal.
“We will use the Village Development Committees and Area Development Committees, to have a say on how this money is going to be used. And if the money is available, that is what we are going to do. And nobody is going to resign. Why should we resign? What are the reasons? There is absolutely no reason for it and therefore we will just ignore that,” Gondwe said.
He added: “If there was an agreement or an understanding that indeed we broke the law, we made wrong decisions, yes [we could resign]. But all what is being said is that morality could not understand this. We should have done differently and then we should withdraw it. They have not proved that. The government will continue with this programme.”
The civil society, apart from Trapence, was represented by Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo, activist Billy Mayaya and Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka.
They have hinted resorting to court action and mass street protests if the two ministers do not step down or be relieved of their duties.
During the Maizegate, a misprocurement scandal of maize from Zambia, some CSOs, including those represented in Friday’s dialogue, obtained a court order compelling Mutharika to fire then Agriculture Minister George Chaponda when the President rejected calls for his dismissal.
During Friday’s meeting at Capital Hill, Gondwe was accompanied by presidential aides, Hetherwick Ntaba and Mabvuto Bamusi, Minister of Industry and Trade, Henry Mussa, Treasury spokesman Davis Sado.
Ntaba, who is also Vice President of DPP, said Gondwe cleared the mist on the funding and that any continued boiling of the matter will be viewed as ulterior motive by the rights defenders.
The DPP fear the CSOs is being pushed by an opposition agenda to destabilise Malawi.
The opposition is said to be mobilising some questionable elements under the cover of civil society groups on machinations against the country’s legitimate authority and sovereignty.
But the CSOs insisting they are acting on ensuring transparency and accountability.
“The issue for us is about accountability. We are not against the idea that money should go to Malawians. That’s what we want and we know that the funds we have do not even reach the rural masses through corruption. What we have been trying to do is to make sure that the channels we use to reach out in terms of the social services that we deliver should be good,” Trapence said.
He said looking at how the whole issue was handled, the solution is that the Minister should just cancel the whole allocation
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