The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), an arm of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), has added its voice to calls demanding the immediate resignation of Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa for their role to arrange K4 billion ‘budget by-pass’ fund to legislators.
The CCJP has since slamed government misallocation of public funds to 86 Members of Parliament as a way of allegedly thanking them for shooting down the Electoral Reforms Bills, and called for “servant leadership” in the country .
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times, CCJP said ‘this misallocation and wanton sharing of tax payers’ money at a time the National Budget is constrained and cannot perform properly, is both unethical and immoral.’
The statement was signed by CCJP National Office, CCJP Archdiocese of Blantyre, CCJP Archdiocese of Lilongwe, CCJP Dedza, CCJP Mzuzu, CCJP Karonga, CCJP Mangochi, CCJP Zomba and CCJP Chikwawa.
It was released following a meeting by the National and Diocesan Coordinators of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) on March 7 2018 at Eber House in the Archdiocese of Blantyre for CCJP Coordinators’ Ordinary Meeting.
“It raises a lot of questions on the integrity and commitment to good governance by the current regime,” it reads adding that “We are appalled by Parliament’s sin of cooperation in supporting illegality and impunity disregarding its constitutional obligation of providing oversight over the Executive arm of the Government.”
CCJP said it is unethical to spend huge sumexpenditure without knowing the source, conditions attached and subsequent approval of Parliament.
“This is a clear portrayal of total mismanagement of public funds and evidence of a leadership that is corrupt and lacks integrity,” reads the statement in part.
The Catholic Church has also renewed calls for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate the matter.
“We join all who call for the Anti-Corruption Bureau to thoroughly investigate and clear the mist regarding the source of the funds as well as the criteria that was used by the concerned Ministers to select the 86 members of Parliament earmarked for the expenditure of the funds.
“As CCJP, we strongly denounce this act of the Executive for initiating this unpleasant expenditure and Parliament for legalizing an illegal expenditure,” reads part of the statement.
Gondwe insisted the money was from taxes, grants and borrowing and was saved from re-adjustments of the 2017/18 budget that saw cuts to the development budget.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development KondwaniNankhumwa could not immediately comment on the call by the influential church to resign.
But University of Livingstonia (Unilia) political analyst George Phiri has said the ideal situation would be for President Mutharika to fire Gondwe and Nankhumwa.
Another political commentator from Chancellor College Ernest Thindwa said while the call is necessary, the feasibility of Gondwe resigning is doubtful, arguing Malawi is a society where voluntary resignation is not practised.
The religious grouping did not spare the opposition members of parliament who at first, condemned the practice but later joined in to share the proceeds of dubious funding.
“We further condemn the greedy traits Opposition members of Parliament have displayed to the Nation by supporting illegality and impunity simply because they were included on the list of beneficiaries,” reads the statement.
Capital Hill has argued that the money, termed quick grant project, is meant for rural development.
At first, the money was reportedly earmarked for only 86 constituencies belonging to the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators and those who supported the quashing of the Electoral Reforms Bills in Parliament last December. Each constituency was earmarked to receive K40 million.
But after Malawi News reported the issue and debate ensued, Nankhumwa, as Leader of the House, said the money would be distributed equally among the 193 constituencies, with each constituency receiving K20 million.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :