MEC boss, directors still in office despite being sent on forced leave over scam

Senior managers of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), including chief elections officer Willie Kalonga, remain in officie despite being sent on one –month forced leave to pave the way for investigations into allegations of financial abuse at the electoral body.

Kalonga : Remains in office
Kalonga : Remains in office

A resolution  was passed in May  by the Malawi Electoral Cycle Support (Mecs) Project Steering Committee comprising government officials and development partners to send all officers from the level of director upwards on forced leave following audit reports suggesting abuse of resources

But the officers remain in office and stateholders fear they could work to defeat justice.

MEC chairperson Maxon Mbendera,who is also a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said they are waiting for  a three-member team comprising representatives of the Malawi Law Society (MLS), Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) and audit and business advisory firm Deloitte to undertake the probe.

He said when team of investigators are ready to undertake the probe, the MEC officers will be sent on forced leave and  that will be announced.

Chief Elections Officer Kalonga also said he remains in office because his employers, MEC has not sent him home and that what Mecs did was just a recommendation that they  should go for administrative leave.

Nyasa Times were first to report about a  special investigation of MEC, conducted by the Central Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Finance,  which uncovered rampant mismanagement of public resources at the electoral body.

The report Reference No 1A/270/15/0018, issued on August 7, 2015, states that MEC flouted procedures and the amounts questioned are in excess of MK1.5 billion. The 40 page long report cites:

  • Procuring and spending outside budget and failure to maintain appropriate accounting records;
  • Recruiting staff without following laid down procedures;
  • Procuring without due regard to regulations; and,
  • Disposing used vehicles to the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), commissioners and staff in a non-procedural manner.

The irregularities did  cost the tax-payer funds in excess of MK1.5 billion.

Summarizing the catalogue of non-compliance to the Public Financial Management Act, the report, seen by Nyasa Times and subjected to various authentication correspondences with the Spokesman of the Treasury, the Chief Secretary, the Chairperson and CEO of MEC, the National Audit Office, and other stakeholders, queries MEC on:

  • Financial mismanagement;
  • Irregularities in staff recruitment;
  • Anomalies in disposal of used motor vehicles; and
  • Non-compliance with procurement law.
  • Financial mismanagement, amounts queried total MK883,537,531.00

Specific findings include:

  • Incomplete accounting records which it states can mislead management into making inappropriate decisions;
  • Maintaining an unnecessary number of bank accounts which complicates tracking of funds;
  • Unreliable bank reconciliations which can ease occurrence and concealment of fraud as was the case with “cashgate”;

Among other things, the auditors suspected foul play in the way the vehicles were valued. In the case of the two vehicles allocated to the CEO for instance, the Chairperson’s vehicle, registration TO2966, had just incurred repair costs of MK1,419,000 yet it ended up being valued at MK1,500,000.

The CEO’s official vehicle was repaired to the tune of MK396,854 and somehow, valued atMK350,000.

The Commission also incurred costs on the other motor vehicles earmarked for boarding-off amounting to MK744,976.10. In other words, the MEC CEO, some commissioners and staff acquired public vehicles for a song, after the Commission had invested a fortune in their repairs in a well-orchestrated looting manouvre.

Issues on procurement include a sum of MK104,701,494.50 which the audit reports states did not comply with Public Procurement Laws. Again, in a scenario reminiscent of cashgate, MEC failed to substantiate the supply of goods by SCI Tanzania which was paid a whopping MK16,688,709. SCI, per their website, is a market-leader in technology consulting and solutions.

Goods procured outside the procurement plan and budget amounted to MK40,655,225; while andMK526,639,314.59 was noted by the auditors to have been spent in excess of the threshold where the Office of the Director of Public Procurement should have granted prior approval.

Development partners, notably Britain, United States of America and UNDP rejected MEC’s explanation on expenditure and suspected fraud as well as nepotism at the institution.

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John Kumwenda
John Kumwenda
5 years ago

MEC provided sufficient responses as can be verified on their website. Govt knows the auditors did a poor job at MEC and would be embarrassed . That’s why the matter has stalled. There are people that are stealing money in the public sector. The report doesn’t talk about theft at MEC. If there was an issue an MEC, govt would have rushed to take action on the bosses. But since there is no theft, Mbendera , Kalonga and company can remain in office

5 years ago

What more evidence do we have than what they are doing! Their actions are the strongest message they can ever give than what they are saying> Seriously, maintaining themselves in office when funders are saying please give way is deliberately being done to shield important documents and wrong doing!!

Nevertheless, olembedwa zangauze chochita olemba!! Time will solve this issue once for all!!

Scotland Yard
5 years ago

KKKKK. koma..eeeh Malawi is a rotten country indeed. Is this Kalonga not a brother to the other Kalonga the cashgate (6 Buses) thief??? Abambo awo ndi mayi awo anali ndi mikozo yonunkha zedi…yaziwanda zakuba..ndipo Major 1 wachepa sangabweretse HOLLY GHOST FiRE onto their stupid rotten heads indeed…Is the stupid judge still at poor beloved country…kulibwino zingokhala konkuno kunja kupemphera kuti Trump alephere..kkkk…chifukwa akawina all donor american money tizibweza kuti azamangile great mpanda wa amerika

Fisi Dausi
Fisi Dausi
5 years ago
Reply to  Scotland Yard

Bwanawe ngati uli kunja ngati ine, tiyeni tizikhala. Kumalawi tidzapite titakalamba ngati aGondwe. Taona nkhuku tikuchitani kuyizemba kudya kuopa kunenepa pomwe anzathu akuchita kuwapempha apulezidenti pa wayilesi kuti azidya ma-rats kamba koti mdziko mulibe mo chakudya.

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