Governance activist and anti-corruption campaigner, Z. Allan Ntata has released his ‘Looting to Kill’ report and exonerated the finance ministry’s then budget director Paul Mphwiyo in the “cashgate” corruption scandal, saying the gun-shot survivor was wrongly fingered in his Cashgate report ‘Licence to Loot’ in 2013 .
Mphwiyo is facing charges of theft and money laundering K2.1 billion ($4.7 million).
But he is a victim of the shooting outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe when he was budget director in the Ministry of Finance.
Former justice minister Ralph Kasambara, Pika Manondo and McDonald Kumwembe have a case to answer on the attempted assassination of Mphwiyo.
In his report launched Tuesday in Lilongwe, Ntata said Mphwiyo was indeed shot when he was about to burst a cashgate syndicate.
“Since the publication of my Cashgate report ‘Licence to Loot’ in 2013, several points have come to light that have compelled me to re-visit my earlier position regarding the role of budget director Paul Mphwiyo, and why an attempt was made on his life.
“First and foremost, a thorough forensic investigation and report was published by the UK based audit firm Baker Tilly. In contradiction to my sources that I relied upon in the preparation of Licence to Loot, the Baker Tilly report failed to establish the link between the infiltration and abuse of IFMIS to the office of country’s budget office or indeed that of the controlling officer, the Secretary to the Treasury,” Ntata said in his new report.
Ntata said the Ministry of Justice and State House sources were part of a well-orchestrated scheme by a “Mafioso type” organised crime syndicate with resources and a robust network to misinform him and other investigators, and sway public opinion from what exactly happened.
“It is now also quite apparent that Cashgate was in fact exposed by Paul Mphwiyo and other officials from our own Treasury and that this is the very reason why an attempt was made on his life,” stated Ntata.
Apparently, the arrest of accounts assistant Victor Sithole – currently serving nine years in jail with hard labour for his part in the K24 billion ($53.3 million) “cashgate” corruption scandal – in August 2013 kick-started what became known as the “cashgate” affair – the worst financial scandal in the country’s history.
It became public knowledge a month later following the shooting of Mphwiyo.
“ It is indeed implausible that a person who held a position for just over thirty days would be able to orchestrate public plunder by literally bulldozing the entire funding and payment process up to the time a cheque is signed by the account general and have it encashed hastily in commercial banks. Thus on this point, in light of the new evidence presented in this brief, my earlier assertions on the role of Paul Mphwiyo.
“Mphwiyo was an obstacle to those that had planned to loot the treasury rather than an accomplice. In fact, the Government should be asking Mphwiyo to help them investigating and prosecuting the Cashgate cases instead of prosecuting him. It seems to me that the reason the Malawi government have criminal cases against Mphwiyo are based on politics rather than law or fact,” Ntata stated.
He cited law professor Danwood Chirwa column published in the Nyasa Times, saying Malawi may have to face the reality that for a long time, the “government has been ran by criminals and has itself become a criminal enterprise.”
Ntata said in the report: “It is now clear that, having been busted and their continued looting foiled, a criminal syndicate stepped up the gear and decided to kill the obstacle. When that assassination attempt [on Mphwiyo] did not go as planned, the syndicate quickly moved to create a narrative that was swallowed line, hook and sinker by the public. The syndicate moved the first ace of confusion to ‘misinform’ not even the Malawi Law Enforcement but first the donors that fund our budget.”
Ntata said it is now “fortunate” that investigators have been able to see beyond the syndicate’s ploy and present the facts clearly.
“Cashgate was already exposed before September 13, 2013 by our own Treasury officials. Based on the information I have reviewed, history has been distorted through a sponsored public opinion campaign by a criminal enterprise against the people that should actually be the heroes for busting a crime syndicate and not the villains as we were meant to believe. The country probably owes such people an apology for having been framed in a carefully crafted fabrication and character branding that is not real,” Ntata said in his report.
He pointed out that Baker Tilly was commissioned to conduct further investigations that culminated into a forensic report including all transactions that had already been exposed by then.
“Cashgate did not, therefore, come to light following the Baker Tilly Report. Baker Tilly just provided the forensic audit trail of what had already been busted,” he noted.
The first person to be convicted in relation to the high-profile case was former Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Tressa Namathanga Senzani, who was sentenced to three years in jail. Several others have since been jailed, including Maxwell Namata, Caroline Savala, Luke Kasamba and Wyson Dzinyemba Soko.
Western donor nations and agencies, which provide 40% of Malawi’s budget, froze vital aid in reaction to the scandal.
In his report, Ntata former legal adviser to president Peter Mutharika’s elder brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, who ruled the country from 2004 until his death in April 2012, said there is no doubt at all that Malawian Presidents since the dawn of democracy have been presiding over systematic corruption and looting, “aided and abated by the presidents themselves,” which has proliferated into all levels of government.
“Unless something drastic is done, it is certain that the Malawi Government’s financial management system will continue to be abused by dishonest politicians and businessmen until they completely bankrupt the already struggling country.
“The sad fact about corruption in Malawi is that looting of public funds has now been institutionalised and is getting more and more pervasive by day,” pointed out Ntata.
Ntata, who is a UK trained barrister, has turned to be a fierce critic of President Mutharika and the Head of State has since dragged him to court for defamation.
The activist said will decide on what action to take if he is served with lawsuit if it “merits any defence or not.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :