Tembo asks ‘shameful’ Lipenga to resign

Malawi Leader of Opposition John Tembo  has said Finance Minister Ken Lipenga should step down  for  willfully misleading parliament over the state of the economy during the mid-term budget review.

Parliamentarian George Nnesa accused the finance minister of deception after Lipenga said the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) collected more than projected revenues of $60million.

Nnesa exposed MRA that it borrowed K15 billion from the banks to paint a rosy picture of revenue collection for the hastily-implemented zero-deficit budget (ZDB) and show that it was on track.

The Finance Minister on Tuesday admitted that indeed government borrowed from banks  due to the pressure exerted from the targets given as a way to make the zero deficit budget implemented.

Tembo: Lipenga should immediately resign

But Tembo  echoed the call of many stakeholders  calling for Lipenga and anyone involved in the alleged deception to  immediately resign.

“It’s a shame to be part of the system,” said Tembo on Daybreak Malawi programme on Capital FM.

He added: “Government should continue clearing the mess that was caused by the previous [DPP] government.”

Tembo even went further to accuse the DPP for going into government fraudulently.

He said the DPP  deceitful actions while in power affected people in the villages and consigned them to waste levels of poverty.

“They were punishing Malawians. They are suffering in the villages because of them,” said the veteran politician who has been earmarked for the position of State  second vice president.

He argued that ministers in the cabinet of late dictator Bingu wa Mutharika should not continue to serve in the fresh start for Malawi under the leadership of Her Excellency President Mrs Joyce Banda.

“These people should not be allowed to continue doing that behind the scenes,” he said.

Asked if President Banda made a mistake to maintain Lipenga as Finance Minister in her inclusive cabinet, Tembo said: “No comment. It’s not for me to say.”

Meanwhile, Lipenga has said he has no intention of resigning over the saga.

“ What I am emphatically stating is that I did not knowingly mislead the national assembly. I did not knowingly present false information to parliament; therefore, in my view there is no basis for the calls,” said Lipenga during a VOA interview.

Lipenga  has also said MRA is better placed to state who authorised them to borrow money for the public coffers.

“I discovered over a period of time that the information I received from my officials was not entirely true. When I responded to the matter in Parliament, I did so on the basis and trust of the information I was furnished with by my officials,” The Nation on Thursday quoted the Finance Minsiter

“I had no reason to suspect [there were] discrepancies. However, when the matter was raised [in Parliament], I became suspicious and took the trouble to investigate. I never gave authority in writing or verbally,” he added.

Several commentators said Lipenga’s credibility has been damaged  with the incident.

Canada –based political commentator Tom Likambale says  “a minister who misleads the President, Parliament or the public – whether deliberately or by incompetence; or the incompetence or lies of officials in hi/her department must resign.”

Likambale says failure to stand down, the President should drop the minister.

“ The failure of any of these two things happening sends a signal of a lack of accountability. This is odious to the public interest. Ken Lipenga must go,” said Likambale.

Meanwhile,  Nnensa has indicated that  he will take the matter to court.

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