Chief Secretary to the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) Lloyd Muhara has been given a three-day ultimatum by civil society organisations (CSOs) to annul the appointment of new Auditor General (AG) Harold Mwala, saying it did not comply with the laws of the country.
Muhara is a lawyer by training and in OPC on secondment from the High Court where he is a Judge. But he risks legal action if the decision to appoint Mwala is not rescinded as the CSOs has engaged a private law firm on the matter.
CSOs leaders Gift Trapence and Timothy Mtambo who head Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) and Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR), respectively have hired Bunnel & Associates to challenge the appointment of Mwala.
The lawyers in a letter on behalf for the CSOs have told the Chief Secretary that the appointment of Mwala disregarded several procedures outlined in the new Public Audit Act.
The CSOs have said they are concerned with “impunity” which the Auditor General has been hired.
Commenting on the matter, governance expert Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that the decision by government of Malawi to rush without following the procedures laid out in the recently approved Public Audit Act to fill the position of Auditor General before setting a clear date when the law would be in force was largely motivated by its vested political interests.
“The expectation was for government to set any date in May or early June 2018 when thus new amended law would come into force and subject the appointment of the new Auditor General to all procedures and process as laid down in the amended law,” said Munthali.
He continued: “ The message we are getting here is that we have a government that comes up with a new law (through parliament) but is not willing to abide by the dictates of such a law in the immediate time hence its continued delay to set the date when this will come into power. In all this, Malawians have been duped.”
The development comes after Malawi’s development partners have also expressed concern that President Peter Mutharika’s administration slowed down implementation of the new Public Audit Act and used an old law in appointing new Auditor General.
Mwala was appointed using the old Section 5 of the Public Audit Act as read with Section 183 (3) of the Constitution which gave appointing powers to the President and confirmation by a committee of the le National Assembly.
But Section 5(a) of the new law gazetted on May 11 2018 after the President signed it into law on May 8 provides for a transparent procedure in the appointment of the AG which includes advertising in two widely circulating newspapers and instituting a panel to shortlist candidates and conduct interviews.
Section 5(a) (5) reads: “The President shall subject to Section 183 (3) of the Constitution to appoint an Auditor General only from the names on the list recommended by the selection.”
Mwala is a fellow of Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), Certified Public Auditors (CPA) Malawi.
He holds a master’s of business administration from Esami, a master’s degree in accountancy and diploma in accountancy from the University of Glamorgan (UK).
Mwala has worked previously in public sector at Accountant General, National Audit Office, Malawi Housing Corporation and Admarc.
He has also been working with private sector at Wood Industries Corporation (Wico_) First merchant Bank and Mulli Brothers Limited.
Mwala will replace Stephenson Kamphasa, whose contract was not renewed, at a time his office has submitted files for further investigation to the Anti-Corruption Bureau pertaining to the K236 billion loss in the period between 2009 and 2014 of public funds known as Cashgate and oversaw the reduction of the backlog of public audits, especially at local government councils.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :