UK says Malawi not out of the ‘cashgate’ woods yet

One of Malawi’s biggest bilateral donors, Britain, has said  it’s too early to determine whether the country is making strides on the alleged looting of more than $100-million from government coffers, a case that has become a litmus test for foreign donors backing the government of Joyce Banda.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times in Lilongwe yesterday, British High Commissioner Michael Nevin acknowledged the efforts government has put so far to make sure that those involved on the issue are brought to book.

Britain has withheld £17-million of budget funds over the scam—dubbed “cashgate”.

“The authorities have taken some action so far, we have seen some people being arrested with some being prosecuted so far. Again, it is very rare for a country to allow foreign expertise to do forensic audit, that too is also a good step,” Nevin said.

British High Commissioner in Lilongwe, Michael Nevin
British High Commissioner in Lilongwe, Michael Nevin

Asked if these actions were enough to give credit to the government, Nevin said it is too early.

“As of now I can’t say I am are convinced  because government has an action plan in place and we are yet to know how far it has been implemented,” he said.

He said Britain want government to put its house in order by implementing systems that will not allow pilferage of public funds.

President Joyce Banda has said she took a “political risk to launch a fight against corruption” ahead of elections will on May20, 2014.

She declared that he fight against corruption “must come first, winning elections comes second to me”.

Banda’s action plan aims to institute far-reaching government reforms.

Donors, who bankroll 40% of the government’s budget have suspended aid until Banda, who came to power in 2012 following the sudden death of president Bingu wa Mutharika, “cleans up the mess” of corruption and speedily prosecutes all suspects.

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