12 December 2017

Malawi: State Capture! Goodall Exposed in K567m Bogus Payment to Pioneer Investment

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has been embroiled in allegations of abuse of office for directing Accountant General to make bogus payments to suppliers who were never contracted.

Nyasa Times has learnt that the Auditor General Stevenson Kamphasa has been "bulldozed" to authorise a payment to a company owned by Asians, Pioneer Investment that was never contracted.

According to documents in possession of Nyasa Times, the company is claiming interest for goods which were supplied to government after receiving advance payment.

Initially, the Auditor General rejected the claim on interest, according to a memo seen by Nyasa Times dated 12 September 2017 reference number Aud/conf/03.

"I refer to my certification on the above supplier dated 22nd August 2017. Recommending for your payment of interest amounting to K567 866 013 00. I wish to advise that the said interest should not be paid because of the new evidence that has come to my attention which I require to carry our further audit," Kamphasa told Pioneer Investments in the letter.

The Auditor General then suspended certification of payment of arrears of all procurements to company.

The letter was copied to Accountant General and Chief Secretary of Government Lloyd Muhara.

But Finance Minister Gondwe has directed to have the payments processed, apparently after getting a sweetener from the suppliers.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have said the directives by Gondwe to Accountant General for bogus payments and directing Auditor General to reverse his decision puts to question the Finance Minister's credibility in being the safeguard of the country's purse.

The CSOs are demanding "transparency and accountability" in the matter and have since asked Gondwe to resign to pave way for investigations.

"This is another form of Cashgate. Let Gondwe step down or he faces street demonstrations," said one of the activists.

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo has since asked President Peter Mutharika to stop "shielding culprits who have abused public funds".

The government purse-keeper has been facing widespread criticism on the way some payments from Treasury are being made and continue plunder of public resources known as Cashgate.

Gondwe has since rejected calls to resign and that he could not be removed, saying Mutharika cannot dare push him out over these payments.

"I am here to stay as Finance Minister up to 2019," he challenged.

The development comes barely a day after Mutharika warned that he will not tolerate anyone engaging in corruption whether in government or not, pledging he will support the fight against corruption in its totality.

"I am tired of corruption in this country. If I happen to catch such corrupt individuals, I will deal with them. Every project we are carrying out in this country, some selfish individuals want to get something out of it. That must stop," Mutharika said on Monday at Police headquarters.

The CSOs are asking the President to walk the talk and deal with Gondwe.


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