Reputable legal expert Chikosa Silungwe has said the decision to share the K4 billion rural development funds among all the 193 constituencies from “budget by-pass” is unconstitutional and warned that if Treasury was to proceed with the disbursement of such funds to the District Councils it risks facing legal action.
Government said it will distribute the funds to all the 193 constituencies following pressure from the opposition members of Parliament (MPs) and other stakeholders who accused it of flouting procedures in acquiring the resources.
The alleged government’s dishonest course came to light last week after it emerged that government had allocated K40 million each to 86 MPs allegedly as a reward for voting against the Electoral Reforms Bills last December.
However, during Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) program “Mphepo Zinayi” aired on Sunday, lawyer Silungwe said it was misleading for some quarters to suggest that the fact that MPs had agreed to share the K4 billion amongst themselves targeting all 193 Constituencies meant that nothing could be done on the matter to rectify the illegal act, arguing that the Parliament’s concensus on the issue was illegal and unconstitutional.
“Ndalama zimenezi sizovolemezeka malingana ndimalamulo adzikolinu. Kugwirizana kunachitika pakati pa aphungu ndikolakwikapamalamulo a dziko la Malawi (Whatever consensus or so-called approval MPs had on the K4 billion was illegal and unconstitutional in as far as our laws in Malawi are concerned.”
“There was no law which was passed to support the K4 Billion as per the constitution, Finance Management Act and Public Audit Act. If there was no law passed to support the deliberations of K4 Billion and how it would be administered, then any agreement made by MPs across political divide on the issue was illegal and unconstitutional,”said Silungwe, a legal consultant, author and former deputy Law Reform Officer at Malawi Law Commission.
Silungwe said that the ball was now in the citizens and civil society groups to demand accountability on the issue by amongst other things petitioning Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) or seeking Judicial Review in Court in order to examine government and Parliament decision on the matter and also suspend any disbursement of such funds as the K4 billion was illegal money.
Taking his turn in the same program, Catholic Commission for Justice (CCJP) National Coordinator Boniface Chibwana said that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government and the entire Parliament had conducted themselves in this K4 Billion saga was a betrayal to the nation, and showed that their sole motivation in the whole saga was to pursue their personal or party interest rather than public interest.
The observation was shared by another panellist Beatrice Mateyu, an activist, who further faulted government for failing to follow the procedures in how it had handled this issue.
A governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali told the program that the K4 Billion dubious fund scandal had only amplified the existing notion that “we have a crooked government – a government that cannot be trust – which is hell-bent at enticing the Opposition and others to join – as accomplice – in pursing selfish agenda rather than public interest”.
Added Munthali: “Malawians must wake up and practice active citizenship. The problem we have in this country is that people love their political parties more than their country. As such, you see MCP and DPP supporters justifying their political leaders in the whole saga. Consequently, these politicians continue to loot our tax payers money. It’s time we started to agree on what is in the public interest.
“Without beating about the bush, it is clear that the whole K4 Billion dubious fund scandal was not about bringing about projects but rather rewarding patronage and also for political campaign in readiness of 2019 elections,” said Munthali, a former National Secretary of the Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission (EPJC) and National Advocacy Coordinator for Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR).
Munthali warned that if the K4 Billion scandal issue was not pursued to the end it had the potential of creating a bad precedence.
“It would be like we have legalised contravening of government procedures as well as public theft. We should take this as a serious governance crisis which we must be addressed as a matter of urgency”, added Munthali.
Meanwhile, Civil Society organisations in Malawi have renewed their calls for President Peter Mutharika to fire Finance Minister Goodwell Gondwe and Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa for the role they played out in the scandal warning that if their calls continue to fall on deaf ears they will seek legal redress and will mobilise Malawians for nationwide demonstrations.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :