Voice of America (Washington, DC)

22 February 2014

Malawi: Government to Release 'Cashgate' Audit Report

Photo: UNFPA
At a hospital in Malawi.

Blantyre — A British forensic audit report on Malawi's "Cashgate" scandal has been turned over to the government. The report is expected to detail how more than $250 million of taxpayers' money was looted from government coffers between April and September of last year in what is known as the Cashgate scandal.

The report was originally set for publication on February 14, but Malawi's National Audit Office announced Wednesday that it wanted to delay release until March 18 so the document would conform to international standards.

However, the decision to turn over the report immediately came after angry reactions from Malawians who had been pushing for release of the document before May elections.

"I can now confirm that the report is in the hands of Ministry of Finance," said government spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira. "The ministry of finance received the report yesterday, Friday [from British forensic auditors] at around 4 p.m.," he said.

But Mpinganjira told a local radio station that the contents of the report would still not be made public until it was presented to parliament.

However, no date has been set for the next meeting of parliament, which is expected to be officially dissolved on March 21 in readiness for elections in May.

"We shall present the report to parliament first. But I suspect that we shall find a way of talking to the people on Malawi [on the report's findings]. I doubt that it is in the interest of anybody for the people to wait until parliament reconvenes," said Mpinganjira.

Malawi's civil society organizations have been warning of unspecified action against the government should it fail to release the report before parliament is dissolved.

The Cashgate scandal was uncovered last September soon after the attempted assassination of then-budget director Paul Mphwiyo.

More than 60 people, including government officials, civil servants and business persons, were arrested and charged with various offenses.

Meanwhile, Malawi donors who withheld aid due to the scandal are expected to meet in March on whether to release the funds.

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