14 June 2017

Malawi: Mphwiyo's Lawyer Calls Cashgate Witness Jenya a 'Theorist Economist'

Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development chief economist Daniel Jenya who is prosecution witness in the K2.4 billion Cashgate case involving former budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others has told the court that he was an admirer of Mphwiyo but was dubbed by defence attorney as a "theorist economist."

Jenya said this during cross examination in court on Tuesday that he has much respect for Mphwiyo when he served as budget director but was disappointed that he did not cooperate when the ministry sought information on what caused "huge expenditures" in some government ministries and departments.

He was responding to the question from the Director of Public Prosecutions Mary Kachale, who wanted to know the relation between him and Mphwiyo, as both were working in the same ministry.

Taking his turn, Mphwiyo's lawyer Shadreck Mhango quizzed Jenya of his role and position at the ministry and if at any time there was any issues againsthim and Mphwiyo.

"How was the relationship between you and Mr. Mphwiyo? Can you confirm that you did not have grudges with him?" asked the lawyer.

In response, Jenya told the Court that their relationship was "very cordial".

He said "We worked very well. I can confirm that I don't have any grudge against Mr Mphwiyo,"

But he then discloses that in 2010 they were not in talking terms with Mphwiyo as he felt Mphwiyo used his positions as one of the deputy directors to grab a scholarship opportunity to study Masters at Columbia University instead of him (Jenya) going there.

Jenya also told them Court that indeed he was too junior to Mphwiyo as he was on level P.O which he said was entry point at the ministry as economist and he was reporting to his immediate supervisor Mrs Ketty Msukwa (late) who then was at grade P7 before promoted to grade P5 while Mphwiyo was at the same level with his director of economic affairs at his department who were both at P2 grade.

When counsel Mhango quizzed him to justify his statement which was recorded in his witness statement saying even though he told Mphwiyo of the anomalies he noticed he was not doing nothing and if Mphwiyo was supposed to report to him.

Jenya told the court that Mphwiyo was reporting to the Secretary to the Treasury who by then was Radson Mwadiwa and that he couldn't have known if Mphwiyo was doing anything on it or not.

When he was asked if it was possible or if it's possible to have a funding authority without the approval of the Secretary to the Treasury, the chief economist told the court that it might only be possible to do such if one manipulate that system but later only acknowledged that it was impossible to have funding authority as Secretary to the Treasury is the only person who authorize the funding and what the budget director does is to write the recommendation letter seeking the guidance and approval

Lawyer Mhango, who was trying to punch holes and discredit the testimony of Jenya as being too junior to know what was happening at top level, had for several times been stopped by Kachale as the top prosecutor was objecting to the line of questioning, arguing the defence attorney was trying to harass the witness.

But this didn't stop Mhango who continued to ask Jenya if he stand by what he said in court and in his caution statement, reminding him that he is under oath.

He asked him if he was in the know who instigated the 9th September, 2013 Reserve Bank of Malawi meeting which was to review the expenditures rise in the budget,

Jenya told the court that from what he was told it was his boss Mr Juwao who instigated the meeting.

The chief economist said he wouldn't know or argue if indeed it was Mphwiyo who called the meeting as per one of the emails copy shown in the court from Mwadiwa to other directors which said the meeting was being called after Mphwiyo was not satisfied with the explanation of RBM on some of the expenditures.

Mhango called Jenya a "theorist economist" in economics department at the ministry but he refused that tag.

Jenya told the court that ordinarily, Mphwiyo in his capacity as budget director then should, have been the one to raise eyebrows on over- expenditure but was neither forthcoming to provide information.

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