7 March 2018

Malawi: Mutharika Wants Logical Conclusion of K236bn Audit Query, 'So Called 13 Files' in Cashgate - Vows to Fight Malawi Corruption

President Peter Mutharika has challenged the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to ensure there is logical conclusion to the K236 billion Cashgate, the country's largest financial scandal suspected to have occurred between January 2009 and December 2014.

From the 44 companies investigations, only 13 files were completed and passed on to the ACB detailing payments to 13 companies from the Malawi Police Services (MPS) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF).

MPS and MDF paid the 13 companies a total of K17.1 billion, representing about 20 percent of the figure the auditors are looking at.

Last March, the graft-busting body released names of five companies ACB cleared but ACB director general Reyneck Matemba said they were carrying "fresh investigations."

Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa told PAC that his office had engaged a forensic audit firm to work on the remaining 37 files alongside his auditors.

Opposition lawmaker Kamlepo Kalua, who is PAC vice chairperson, has been claiming that he knows of names of seven cabinet ministers implicated in the mismanagement of the public funds .

But speaking in Lilongwe on Tuesday when he presided over the launch of the National Security Policy, Mutharika challenged the institutions investigating the matter - who have kept a tight lid on the rest of the names mentioned in the files - to fast track and complete investigations on what he described as 'so called' 13 files and K236 billion audit query.

Said Mutharika: "We are not doing this to please anybody but it is for the interest of the nation."

Mutharika maintained that he will not give amnesty to anyone found with any Cashgate wrongdoing.

"And I repeat, what I have always said, I will never shield anyone from the law," ," said Mutharika.

The Malawi leader renewed his vows to crackdown on corruption and that there will be no sacred cows.

"Corruption has become our culture and Cashgate was the climax of it all, many believe it's a normal way of doing things. However, we need to change this, the fight against corruption is a corrective fight. Let us avoid, desist and report corruption to end it. It can never be dealt with through prosecution [alone]," said Mutharika.

Mutharika said his administration is "making progress" to crackdown on corruption.

"While some people are busy politicising corruption, objective people can see that we are slowly making progress but we need to do more.

"Fighting corruption is not for one individual, therefore we must stop pointing fingers at anyone," said Mutharika.

The Malawi leader announced that government has finalised the procurement of new t Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) replacing the old software now blamed for Cashgate.

"We need tight security on public resources, no more theft of public funds and never again should we hear of cashgate happening in this country. We introduced the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) to ensure this, including making sure that there are no ghost workers in this country," he said

In an interview with Nyasa Times, Leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera has asked government to prosecute individuals who looted public resources in the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration while continuing with investigations into the 2012/13 Cashgate under the Joyce Banda administration of People's Party (PP).

"Cashgate under the PP administration was as a result of porous financial management system that was put in place by the DPP-led government," said Chakwera/

He asked authorities to bring to justice all those who, in previous DPP and PP regimes, acquired property and riches illegally.

"We hope to see this (DPP) government pursue the cashgate scandal and bring culprits to book, "he said.

The Cashgate theft is the biggest financial scandal in the history of Malawi, which depends heavily on foreign aid.

In his remarks, chief Secretary to government Lloyd Muhara described the launch of the National Security Policy as a milestone saying issues of national security are a prerequisite for national development.

Said Muhara: "Malawi has had no National Security Policy since independence. The launch of this policy is very important as security and development concerns are interlocked for there can never be social economic progress without security."

Different stakeholders including the European Union (EU) took part in coming up with the policy.

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