Malawi Pres. Banda, Atupele hold secret talks

Malawi President Joyce Banda and opposition UDF president Atupele Muluzi on Sunday held secret talks at top hill Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, Nyasa Times has learnt.

Nyasa Times sources said Muluzi was spotted at Sanjika Palace on Sunday where he had an audience with President Banda.

The meeting was not formally announced.

When contacted for comment, Presidential Press Secretary Steve Nhlane confirmed about the meeting but could not shed more light.

President Banda and Atupele Muluzi

“Yes, The President met Hon. Atupele Muluzi on Sunday,” he told Nyasa Times.

“The talks were private,” added Nhlane.

When contacted for comment, Muluzi confirmed that he went to Sanjika to meet President Banda.

“Yes I met the President,” he said.

Muluzi said he had sought an audience with the President after his meeting with representatives of Malawi’s key donors under the Common Approach to Budget Support (Cabs).

“The donors will be pulling out the plug of financial aid to Malawi with on-going revelations of massive fraud and corruption in government. I went to convey this message to the President and share notes in respect to how the government would deal with the situation,” said Muluzi.

Malawi is rocked by the worst fraud scandal in the public service which has reportedly drained over K100 billion (over $250m) of taxpayers’ money through dubious pay-outs to companies that did not provide any goods or services.

President Banda argues that the current exposure of theft and looting in public service is a result of her government’s efforts in curbing the malpractice.

“It is my government’s effort to stump out fraud and corruption in public service. It is obvious that mismanagement of public funds has been there since the era of United Democratic Front  or the one party system regime,” said Banda.

A number of former top government officials, including former president Bakili Muluzi and former minister of finance Friday Jumbe are currently answering fraud and corruption charges in courts.

Up to US $100 million is said to have been lost through fraud and corruption during the ten years Muluzi was in power.

And during former president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died from cardiac arrest complications in April 2012, it has been revealed that about K90 million was lost for wrongful- self-enrichment.

Late Mutharika treacherously accumulated a net wealth of over K60 billion (about US $174m) during the eight years he has been in power. While his brother Peter, who is seeking presidential run in the year’s election, has been hitting the headlines in the press recently over accusations of state assets stripping when he was a minister.

The current government is seeking support of all stakeholders in the country including Parliament to help curb the culture of looting which has bedevilled the seat of government, Capital Hill.

President Banda had also sought the assistance of the international community in investigating the weakness in the government’s financial system.

A forensic audit team from the United Kingdom has since arrived in Malawi to help government investigate how millions of dollars were pilfered from the system.

Meanwhile, the first 2013/14 Common Approach to Budget Support biannual review which was originally scheduled for the October 31 2013, will take place on Thursday November 7 2013.

And an IMF mission – crucial for budgetary support- is assessing fiscal implications of the current crisis in public financial management.

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