Outgoing Leader of Opposition John Tembo said the amount plundered from the public purse could be on the higher side up to K50 billion and not K6.1 billion (about $15.2m) or K13.6 billion (about $34m).
Malawi’s Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba told reporters in Lilongwe on Monday that the amount looted it K6.1 billion (about $15.2m) and not K13.6 billion (about $34m), saying the forensic auditors ‘went beyond their mandate to include two other areas.’
But Tembo, who has served as Finance Minister and Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor before, begs to differ, saying the figure is astronomical and not as projected by Finance Minister
“The figure could be more than K50 billion,” suspected Tembo.
Tembo is the view that the K13 billion figure presented by the forensic auditors is small and that the figure has been deliberately lowered.
Some quarters have also faulted the report for not unveiling companies, individuals and the names of commercial banks which were involved in the malpractice.
They have argued that the report has not brought what Malawians were waiting as it is just like document confirming that there was indeed looting of public resources, which is common knowledge to every citizen.
Mkwezalamba however defended the omission of names of various individuals and companies involved in the plunder of taxpayers’ money between April and September 2013 in the forensic audit report prepared by a British forensic audit firm Baker Tilly.
“Indeed, there is no mention of names of individuals and companies in the report and this is for good reason of not prejudicing ongoing legal proceedings in our courts,” said Mkwezalamba.
The cashgate scandal forced international donors to cut aid to Malawi.
The freeze has left a yawning hole in the budget of a country reliant on handouts for 40 percent of its revenues, and has seen a free fall of Kwacha to major trading currency, the US Dollar.
The ruling People’s Party has since accused the activists of seeking to sow chaos in their planned mass action.