Malawi’s vocal Civil Society Organizations have unequivocally demanded that Finance Minister Ken Lipenga and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) boss Lloyd Muhara spare themselves the embarrassment by voluntarily resigning from their respective posts with immediate effect.
Lipenga admitted the revenue authority borrowed K15 billion to paint a picture that the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s initiative–Zero Deficit Budget – was working.
“If our demands are not met, we will use our constitutional rights in organizing peaceful protests to demand their resignation or firing,” said the CSOs in a joint statement dated May 10th 2012 and a copy made available to Nyasa Times.
The CSOs have also quashed Lipenga’s defense made in various media outlets that he acted out of ignorance and that he was not part of this shameful act, saying such utterances did not add up and therefore must be challenged outright.
“By virtue of being the Minister of Finance he is not only supposed to know the sources of government revenue but also how to spend the same. In simple terms, he is supposed to understand how the treasury books… before presenting the same to the nation through Parliament,” argued the CSOs.
Lipenga and Muhara are embroiled in scandal where they doctored figures for Malawi’s midterm budget in 2011 indicating that the country was making progress on the infamous Zero deficit Budget when the opposite was true.
In Parliament then, Lipenga acted up without shame and remorse by patting MRA on the back for a job well done for collecting enough revenue to propel the Zero Deficit Budget.
The duo illegally obtained a loan from commercial banks to demonstrate that the Zero Deficit Budget (ZBS) was manageable and sustainable with local resources.
“Apart from that we also expect an expeditious probe into the matter to establish facts about this illegal transaction. This should also entail the involvement of the bank officials in as far as this loan was concerned to serve as deterrent in future. All culprits should be disciplined as per their respective involvement,” the CSOs said.
The Human Rights Consultative Committee, Governance Platform, Civic and Political Space Platform and Human Rights Defenders Forum have also asked president Joyce Banda to exercise her prerogative by firing them if they remain adamant.
“The civil society is of the view that the duo did not only betray the nation but also… broke the law through illegal borrowing of funds from commercial banks to fill in the void created by the Zero Deficit Budget,” reads part of the statement.
The CSOs further said that public positions demand the bearers to carry out themselves with the highest level of integrity and public trust.
“As such, it is advisable that the two gentlemen need not be retained in public positions as their conduct put the image of government into disrepute,” they said.
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