Governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for Centre Hetherwick Ntaba was on the forefront soliciting money from some parastatals and city councils during the party’s fundraising dinner on July 29 2017, Nyasa Times sources have disclosed.
DPP has been under pressure from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to refund the money donated by 10 parastatals and other public institutions, including Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) as well as Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Blantyre city councils to account for their actions in supporting DPP using public resources.
But Ntaba quashed the CSOs, saying the party will not make a refund as it did not force any institution to support its fundraising cause at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where President Peter Mutharika was the guest of honour.
DPP secretary general Greselder Jeffrey wa Jeffrey backed Ntaba and described demands by Mzuzu-based Youth and Society (YAS), Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Church and Society Programme, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) to refund the money as Zachamba (Nonsense)
Nyasa Times understands that Ntaba was in charge of committing one of the worst forms of misuse and abuse of public funds when he was approaching CEOs of the State enterprises to make donations to the Blue Night.
It has also been established that Blantyre City Council’s initial cheque of K3 million was rejected by Ntaba as “manifestly inadequate” and the council was forced to send another cheque.
“We were under pressure from Ntaba to make donations against the Public Finance Management Act,” said one of the bosses in the agencies – his name has been shielded.
Ntaba, who is also presidential advisor at State House, has refuted the allegations as “baseless”.
The five CSOs pushing DPP to refund the money warned the governing party will be taken to court for abuse of public office and public funds, but also for the court to determine whether the actions taken by the DPP and the parastatals and councils were lawful and reasonable.
The CSOs through their lawyer, Wesley Mwafulirwa, may also explore the option of lobbying for the arrest and criminal prosecution of any members of DPP whose conduct had criminal elements.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) joined the condemnation of donations, highlighting that Under Section 178 of the Constitution and Section 23 of the Public Finance Management Act, no single kwacha of public money is supposed to be expended unless such expenditure is authorised by an Appropriation Act or is a statutory expenditure.
DPP secretary general Wa Jeffrey said in a letter to CSOs that the party was willing to furnish the public with details of the money collected and donors through a dialogue process.
But the CSOs in response through their lawyer Mwafulirwa welcomed the dialogue conditionally, saying the governance watchdogs have always wanted to resolve the issues “amicably for the best interest of Malawians.”
The letter says the CSOs welcome the inclusion of the Office of the President and Cabinet (On issues dealing with CSOs) to the discussions.
“The above points notwithstanding, my clients’ proposal is that the meeting is in closed doors and each of the five CSOs should send two delegates as well as me,” the letter by lawyer Mwafulirwa reads in part.
“From your side, we would expect a team of not more than eight people as well and perhaps one person from the OPC. “
The CSOs have proposed that the meeting should take place in Lilongwe at Capital Hotel on the 31st of August, 2017 (perhaps from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm).
“Five people will travel from Mzuzu. We expect your institution to take care of booking of the venue as well as accommodation and transport expenses of the team that will come from Mzuzu,” reads the letter.
The lawyer also stressed on the need for the DPP to guarantee security of the activists.
“We also hope that the security of our team members will be guaranteed. We cannot overemphasize this point,” Mwafulirwa’s letter reads in response to a letter from DPP.
CSOs insist that if there are other agenda to be discussed, they should bring to their attention a day in advance.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :