Former Malawi minister of Finance Ken Lipenga has told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament that his hands are clean as he was not aware that some civil servants were siphoning billions of public funds from government coffers.
“I was head of the ministry, yes. It’s a fact that what I should take is political responsibility and that’s why I am no longer minister,” Lipenga told the committee.
“If I knew we had thieves in the ministry, we would have flushed them out. But since it wasn’t done then, it is being done now,” he said.
Lipenga, who was also finance minister in the Mutharika’s DPP regime, told the committee that a report into the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) by Technobrain submitted to his office on July 18 2013 is what alerted him to the cash-gate.
“After meeting Technobrain, I had all the information I needed to get rid of Ifmis. It was a tragedy that after eight years, the system was not working. It was my view then that it should be replaced,” he said
Lipenga during DPP regime also feigned ignorance in the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) borrowing of K14.3 billion from banks to sugar coat the zero deficit budget and was cleared by the Joyce Banda administration of any wrong.
But critics have said it was impossible to believe that Lipenga as Minister of Finance was not aware of the shortfalls in treasury.
Malawi has been rocked by widespread corruption, losing millions of funds to theft by mostly civil servants which the government blames on financial loopholes.
Donors have called on the poor nation to act swiftly on the plunder of public resources, known as the Capital Hill Cashgate scandal.