Senior managers of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), including chief elections officer Willie Kalonga, have been forced to go on leave to pave the way for investigations into allegations of financial abuse at the electoral body.
Commissioner Linda Kunje,who is MEC chairperson of the Finance and Administration Committee, disclosed this in a statement made avaibale to Nyasa Times on Wednesday.
Apart from Kalonga, those sent on forced leave include Deputy Chief Elections Officer of Operations Harris Potani, Director of Administration and Human Resources George Khaki, Director of Finance Khumbo Phiri, Procurement Officer Chimwemwe Kamala, Procurement Manager Edington Chilapondwa and Sydney Ndembe who was the Assistant Procurement Officer.
“Following an investigative audit carried out by the Central Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Finance between 27th April and 15th May, 2015 which alleged malpractices at the Malawi Electoral Commission, the Commission has therefore resolved to send you on leave with immediate eefect,” read part of the document signed by Kunje.
“This has been necessitated in order to pave way for the Audit Team set up to review the audit responses presented by the Commission to be able to do its work without any undue influence,” it added.
The document further said “it is envisaged that the Audit Team will complete its work within a short period and the Commission will at that point make known to the public the outcome of the review and the action that it will take.”
The Commission also said that it would like to assure all stakeholders that it is committed to ensuring that its operations adhere to all legal, public and international standards hence the need for engaging this independent Audit Team.
Funds amounting to K15 422 756 million were abused at MEC between July 2012 and December 2014.
During a Mec meeting on January 19 2016, development partners, notably Britain, United States of America and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), rejected MEC’s explanation on expenditure and suspected fraud as well as nepotism at the institution.