Of UK diplomat’s conduct on Malawi cashgate report

Baker Tilly’s Report on fraud and mismanagement of public funds at Malawi’s Capitol Hill and the role the British High Commission has hitherto played in the whole process could be one of the most recent controversial cases of violation of people’s right to development?

Considering the main principle underlying the international dimension of the RTD which is the duty of cooperation or solidarity, the British High Commission played a commendable role in facilitating and hiring Baker and Tilly to carry out a forensic audit immediately unconfirmed reports about high profile fraud, theft and mismanagement of colossal amounts of Malawi Government money were heard.

However, there are so many questions one would ask regarding the way the scandal has been handled by our international development partner namely the British Government and in particular, Mr Michael Nevin the British High Commissioner to Malawi. Viewed in the light of the provisions of the Right to Development (RTD), one would be tempted to consider that Baker Tilly’s Forensic Audit Report and the recent statement by Mr Nevin could be a violation of the right to development of the people of Malawi.

British envoy Michael Nevin:
British envoy Michael Nevin:

In the name of solidarity and corporation, the British High Commission unilaterally imposed a number of decisions on the way the ‘cashgate’ scandal was to be handled.

Firstly, the process and procedure for procuring the services of Baker and Tilly was not transparent and participatory. At the beginning perhaps this was allowed on trust and due to the urgency of the matter.

Secondly, high profile government sources including state house confided in this author and Mr Nevin himself and the head of DFID in Malawi, Mrs Sarah Sanyahumbi at a business dinner meeting with CSO leaders, disclosed that BHC imposed the continued use of the Soft-Tech Consulting Limited Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) software even when the government of Malawi was not keen to continue using it.

Worse than all we have seen BHC not only orders Bakers and Tilly not to release names of those who are implicated in the audit but also shuts up Malawians from expressing their displeasure with the decision.

“The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.” (Article 1.1, Declaration on the Right to Development).

“The HRD also implies the full realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, which includes, subject to the relevant provisions of both International Covenants on Human Rights, the exercise of their inalienable right to full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources” (Article 1.2).

The British High Commissioner’s conduct with regards to his approach to the handling of the ‘cashgate’ scandal falls short of the respect, protection and fulfilment of the Malawians People’s right to development.

The conduct of the British high commissioner has largely been perceived by many Malawians as a relentless effort to shield Mrs Joyce Banda, Malawi’s President and at all cost to help her survive the highly contested forth-coming Presidential Elections.

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