Malawi activists want cashgate forensic audit publicised

Malawi government has been asked to publish the entire preliminary forensic audit report and the executive summary on the ‘Cashgate’ corruption scandal which was submitted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep) said in a statement that Malawians have a right to know the contents of the report.

“The publishing of the two documents will clear the prevailing suspicion as well as enhance the credibility and acceptability of the forensic audit by the general public,” said a statement signed by CHRR acting executive director Timothy Mtambo and Cedep executive director Gift Trapence.

CHRR'S Mtambo co-signed the statement
CHRR’S Mtambo co-signed the statement

“There are fears in some quarters that government supported by some key stakeholders in the preliminary forensic audit report are buying time in order to subject the document to manipulation, “ it adds.

CHRR and Cedep statement reads in part: “On whether such fears are rooted in speculations, the Government of Malawi can rise up and spruce up its already battered image through not only an immediate publishing of the forensic audit report but also calling on Parliament to convene as per their last session consensus so that the Public Accounts Committee should update the house on its findings to the cashgate.”

Malawi’s Finance Minister Maxon Mkwezalamba recently said at a news conference he addressed together  with the Minister of Information Brown Mpinganjira the audit report was  just “an executive summary and was specifically meant for the IMF. It’s not what Malawians are looking for. It doesn’t contain the nitty gritties that Malawians are looking. For example, it doesn’t contain information about who stole what and on what day.”

But the two watchdogs countered: “Certainly, an executive summary doesn’t contain every single detail of the actual document as rightly observed by the Finance Minister. It however represent the meaning, ideas and the spirit of the actual entire document. By just reading it one gets the gist of the actual entire document.

“ Premised on these simple basics, Malawians would be very much interested to know if the executive summary submitted to IMF speaks to the actual preliminary forensic audit which government has promised to make public in few days from now.”

Certainly, the impression citizens out there have regarding government’s conduct on the forensic report sent to IMF is that full of suspicion and anger against it.

CHRRR and CEDEP pointed out that  government’s legitimacy to govern “is only conditional upon sustained trust of the governed, and nothing has provided a sterner test to this cardinal constitutional provision in the current regime than the cash-gate.”

The groups cited the  constitution in Section 12(i)  which states: “All legal and political authority of the state derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this constitution solely to serve and protect their interests.

The two civil society organisations (CSOs) have also joined opposition’s calls for immediate convening of Parliament to enable the House to debate the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) findings of cashgate following its fulfilment of the assignments.

[highlight style=’peach’] Background… [/highlight]

Cashgate scandal has affected the country’s relations with donors and caused outrage among Malawians.

Allegations of the massive looting of government money became public following the shooting of the finance ministry’s then budget director Paul Mphwiyo in September 2013.

Just days before, a junior civil servant was allegedly found with bales of cash totalling more than $300,000 in the boot of his car.

Former justice minister Raphael Kasambara is facing conspiracy charges in the shooting of Mphwiyo and about 98 people are facing charges related to cashgate.

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