JB assures Malawi opposition: No shielding of culprits in ‘cash-gate’ crackdown

Malawi President Joyce Banda on Thursday held talks at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, with leaders of opposition parties in the country over a financial scandal at Capital Hill.

The Malawi leader retaliated her stand on the crackdown of cash leak in government that there will be no person who will be shielded from facing the law.

“I told the members of opposition parties and assured everyone that my Government is doing everything possible to bring to book all the culprits,” Banda said in a statement after the meeting.

“I want to assure everyone that our government will always remain committed to ensure that all the issues surrounding Public Finance Management Systems are resolved as soon as possible,” she stated.

President Banda briefing opposition leaders
President Banda briefing opposition leaders

President Banda said it was disheartening to hear stories about the looting in government and said it was her government’s efforts to fight corruption in government which has been deep-rooted for years.

“Government will also ensure that the investigations are thorough, transparent and transformational so that never again this country will have to go such a pain again. This is why my Government has included foreign forensic experts in this investigation. To this end, we already have short term experts on the ground working with the national audit office. The audit will not be limited to the current financial year. It will zero onto payments undertaken in the past five years,” she stated.

Banda noted that the previous governments of late Bingu wa Mutharika and Bakili Muluzi tolerated the vice during their reign, saying she going to tackle corruption head on because her administration recognises the importance of sound macroeconomic management and good governance including sound public financial management as key to the development of the country.

“I briefed the opposition parties that I have directed that relevant Government institutions namely: the Malawi Police Service, the Anti-corruption Bureau, the Director of Public Prosecution, and the Financial Intelligence Unit should work on these issues in a concerted effort.

“I also informed them that I have directed that the Special Team in the Malawi Police Service headed by Mr. Bophani give regular briefings to the public and he has already started this week. It is interesting to note that the vouchers coming out of the investigations, some of them date back to 2006,” reads Banda’s statement.

The President said her Government has put in place measures to arrest the pilferage of public resources and that immediately after it was realised that the digital platform was being abused, Government temporarily suspended the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) to prevent further abuse of the system and worked on corrective measures to resolve the weaknesses that were immediately identified.

“Government has mobilised both independent Malawi task team of experts and those experts from the vendor who supplied the digital platform to work on the system to ensure that all the functionalities are operational,” she state, adding “These experts have so far identified fraudulent transactions that were made in the system and deleted. Thus, Government has been able to identify suspicious transactions and are being investigated.”

She informed that the retrieved information gives details of the persons involved in the facilitation of the transaction, the amounts involved and the beneficiaries.

“This information has been passed on to the law enforcement agencies to analyse and come up with a firm basis for further action. On some of the transactions, the Anti-corruption Bureau has already filed charges in the Magistrate Courts. The processes will be on-going as further revelations come to the fore.”

President Banda said her government has already engaged the systems supplier to collate all suspicious transactions and review the systems gaps and plug them, including engaging an ICT Security expert who will ensure that the system is not tampered with.

“Government will also come up with an IFMIS ICT Security Policy in addition to capacity building through improving the competence of accounting and ICT officers.”

Banda stressed government “will not shield anyone engaged in the current malpractice”, saying there has  already been re-deployment of staff within the Civil Service to pave way for the investigation.

In ensuring continued reforms , President Banda said her government will also accelerate the implementation of the Public Finance and Economic Management (PFEM) reform programme, the Money Laundering Act amendment including Civil Assets Forfeiture regime and also the tabling of the Assets and Declaration Bill.

President Banda also informed that she has asked the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Fahad Assani  to start consultations only on reviewing the Anti-corruption Act and the possibility of establishing an Anti-corruption Court.

Leader of opposition DPP in parliament George Chaponda and Leader of MCP in parliament John Tembo at the meeting
Leader of opposition DPP in parliament George Chaponda and Leader of MCP in parliament John Tembo at the meeting
New Labour Party  president and former finance minister Friday Jumbe (right) with his aide Nicholous Kachingwe at the meeting
New Labour Party president and former finance minister Friday Jumbe (right) with his aide Nicholous Kachingwe at the meeting

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