Malawi govt attacks CSO’s Voice Mhone, says he is ‘compromised’

Malawi government has taken swipe at Voice Mhone, a spokesperson for the coalition of the Malawi Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that are leading the voice of dissent against president Banda’s handing of cashgate scandal saying he is not a man to be trusted and that he has indelible track record.

In an unsigned statement but distributed by Director of Information in the M ministry of Information and Civic Education, Chikumbutso Mtumodzi, government appeals to the CSOs to desist from using Mhone as a lead spokesperson “because his name is compromised with one of the first ever fraud case at the Ministry of Agriculture in 1997”.

The statement has cited fraudulent incidents in which Mhone was said to be the main actor.

The statement is accusing Mhone of being involved in four theft incidents:

Mtumodzi: issued the statement
Mtumodzi: issued the statement
Voice Mhone It's smear camapign to distract people from focusing on cash-gate scandal
Voice Mhone It’s smear camapign to distract people from focusing on cash-gate scandal

1.   Payment through a syndicate by a number of accounting staff in the Ministry’s cash office, main accounts and the accounts section at the Department of Agricultural Research.

2.   The payment vouchers and cheques were being authorized and approved as well as cheques being signed, money drawn from banks as payment for stationery supplied to the Ministry and the Research Department when in fact the stationery was not supplied at all.

3.   The scum was procedurally uncovered through a routine audit on procurements at the Ministry’s headquarters and department of Agricultural Research headquarters.  The Ministry’s Internal Audit team conducted the audit (1996-98).

4.   Large sums of money were lost through the malpractice.  Payments being made to these officers themselves through their companies for goods not supplied.

It also alleges that Mhone has cases with Malawi Housing Corporation in 1998 due to accusations levelled against him by neighbours in Area 18.

“The regional management had to intervene and all this is on record” he said.

But Mhone has accused government of embarking on propaganda campaign against him and other activist and has since vowed that “we are not going to relent or be distracted”.

Mhone said although Mtumodzi is a government official, he is peddling the “distorted facts” on behalf of the ruling People’s Party.

“Yes, there were issues that landed me into conflict of interest and I was implicated way back in the mid-1990s as is being drummed up by the People’s Party top functionaries, of course with distorted facts. I went through the whole legal process, I was acquitted and I was finally re-instated but I opted not to go back into civil service,” said Mhone.

Mhone told the paper that he will not relent in making sure that those involved in the current looting of public funds are brought to book.

He said having gone through the legal process himself; it gives them sitting at the helm of the NGO community an impetus to ensure that all current cash-gate culprits are brought to book.

“We are not going to relent or be distracted but will press on. So let the People’s Party leadership get over it and move our nation forward not backwards.”

Meanwhile,  Mhone said the he has referred the issue to his lawyers to commence litigation on defamation.

In their statement, the CSO leaders warned they would hold periodic demonstrations, occupy Capital Hill and State houses and move Parliament to form an interim government, among others, if the President was not going to address their demands regarding the Capital Hill cash-gate.–(Additional reporting by Chanzy Namazunda, Nyasa Times)

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