Former minister of finance in the United Democratic Front (UDF) government, Friday Jumbe has contradicted former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo on how government payments are authorized, saying a budget director has no mandate to make payments.
.One of the accused person in the shooting of former budget director in the ministry of finance Paul Mphwiyo, McDonald Kumwembe paraded Jumbe and former Peoples Party official Hophmally Makande to testify as he enters his defence.
Former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier Kumwembe, who is jointly charged with conspiracy to commit murder alongside former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara and businessperson Pika Manondo, is defending himself after the state finished cross examining him.
Kumwembe is also charged with attempted murder together with Pika Manondo during the shooting of Mphwiyo outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013. Mphwiyo’s shooting is believed to have exposed the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill that came to be known as Cashgate.
He paraded Jumbe as his witness due to his knowledge of public finance management following Mphwiyo’s submission in his affidavit that he was “being pressurised by politicians and Cabinet Ministers to make payments.”
Kumwembe asked Jumbe on the role of budget director in relation to issuance of government payments.
Jumbe said under public finance management, the budget director has no power to issue or make payments.
“It is not possible because a budget director works under the Secretary to Treasury. If the holder of that office issues payments, then procedures are being flouted,” testified Jumbe.
Asked by Kasambara if it was normal for Mphwiyo to make such payments, Jumbe vehemently said no.
Kasambara then produced Mphwiyo’s statement which has his job descriptions among them; planning, extension, monitoring and provide advice to the Secretary to the Treasury on budget matters.
“From that do you see any indication that Mphwiyo got legal powers to make payments?” asked Kasambala
Jumbe replied “no,”
Kasambara, “during your tenure as finance minister [Bakili Muluzi, UDF government] was there any situation where a Budget Director could be used by a president or minister to authorize payments?
In response, Jumbe said: “No, not at all.”
Kasambara further asked Jumbe: “Is it right to say a budget director can originate payment?”
Jumbe said: ’No.”
On Mphwiyo’s statements which claimed that it was Kasambara who was the then Attorney General who was pressurizing him to authorize such payments, the former minister of justice produced two letters he wrote the Secretary to the Treasury and copied to the Accountants General to make payments to some companies which had successfully sued government for breach of contract.
One was from Terrastone and Deco Construction joint ventures which won the contract to construct the parliament building before Malawi severed ties with Taiwan and opted for China.
Another one was with Grey Waterways which payment was done through Banda and Banda Company.
“What was those letters from and to?” Kasambara asked Jumbe.
He replied: “From the Attorney General to secretary to the treasury and copied to the accountant’s general.”
He further asked: “Do you see anywhere addressed to the budget director?”
Jumbe again said, no.
When Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mary Kachale quizzed Jumbe on whether he could be a witness of truth on the role of a budget director, Jumbe refused, saying he could not bear such witness.
“I don’t know the parameters under which Mphwiyo was working,” said Jumbe.
Kachale asked again: “Do public servants follow the law?”
In response, Jumbe conceded that “sometimes” public servants flout procedures.
He also admitted that even during his time at the Ministry of Finance, his office made substantial payments and that other people were being prioritised.
Hearing resumes at Lilongwe High Court on Tuesday January 5, 2016.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :