Malawian President Peter Mutharika promised on Thursday to take personal charge of a battle against corruption and warning that more arrest are looming and will involve high profile personalities involved in the plundering of public coffers at Capital Hill popularly referred to as cash-gate.
About K20 billion was reportedly looted since April 2012 when Joyce Banda was in power, adding that to another K92 billion which went missing over the eight years of the presidency of the late Bingu wa Mutharika.
In total, government said that about 30 per cent of the country’s budget could have been looted over a decade – almost as much as donors have provided Malawi over the same period.
Addressing a news conference Thursday evening in the capital Lilongwe, Mutharika was asked by a reporter to comment on the forensic audit report on the K92 billion (US$206.7 million) Cashgate which contains a catalogue of allegations of high-level corruption with some of his government officials implicated.
Mutharika said he would pursue convictions in all scandals, saying his administration will not spare anyone as far as cash-gate is concerned.
At the evening news conference, Mutharika was accompanied by Ministers George Chaponda, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Joseph Mwanamvekha and Patricia Kaliati. Out of the ‘midnight six’ presser DPP team, only Nicholous Dausi and Henry Mussa were not there.
Germany-funded financial investigation—conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will expose ministries and departments behind the K92 billion heist between 2009 and 2012 as well as broader public finance malfeasance as it also covers the years up to 2014, according to sources close to the audit exercise.
The social media has been awash with unverified reports that key cabinet Ministers including that of Foreign Affairs Chaponda and Labour Minister Henry Mussa have been implicated in the latest K92 billion cashgate.
Citing a leaked report, it is being discussed on social media that the implicated ministers siphoned resources outside the country and invested in both fixed and non-fixed assets.
President of the Malawi Forum for Unity and Democracy George Nnesa who has been a whistle blower for some time including the revelation of national budget cooked up figures during Bingu’s zero aid budgets says all people adversely mentioned in the report regardless of seniority should step aside pending investigation.
“I think it puts to rest what people suspected that cash gate started during the reign of the DPP under late Bingu wa Mutharika, now that the report has come out we expect that government will act on that one,” Nnesa said.
“In the first place the people mentioned are serving in the current administration and if this government is serious about tackling cashgate, those people should step aside from their positions to allow for thorough investigations and prosecution should be taken independently,” he added/
Forum for National Development FND National Coordinator Fryson Chodzi has advised the administration of Peter Mutharika to come in the open that all involved are brought to book that shielding each other.
“One of the things that president Peter Mutharika said is that if anyone is involved in cashgate he/she will have to pave way for thorough investigations so we will not accept anything short of that even those in opposition if they have a position in a public office they must do the same, we will not spare anybody”, said Chozi.
He said if a member of parliament from the opposition is implicated or the minister in government is implicated FND expect them to step down to pave way for investigations no two ways about it.
He said civil society organizations are watching closely the matter as facts unfold.
Meanwhile the National Audit Office spokesperson Lawrence Chinkhunda said the report is expected to be formally submitted to the Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe in accordance with the Public Audit Act, for onward tabling in Parliament.
He said the report covers a period of five years, which includes the period when the K92 billion issues occurred but pointed out that it is “not restricted to the K92 billion.”
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