Malawi: Parliament for Audits in Malawi Embassies - Several Diplomats On Recall

16 September 2020

Parliament's Public Account Committee (PAC) has asked the National Audit Office (NAO) to audit the country's 19 foreign missions and three consulates as the new administration will be recalling some officers and diplomats from foreign mission.

The committee said NAO should ensure the audit takes place by end of this year to ascertain how they spent public funds.

PAC chairperson Shadrec Namalomba said this during a budget cluster meeting of the Public Accounts and Budget committees at Parliament in Lilongwe on Tuesday to scrutinise the proposed 2020/21 National Budget Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu tabled in the House on Friday.

NAO has also been tasked to include in the exercise what the committee described as "top five" parastatals.

The 'top five' parastatals that the committee has named for fresh audit includes Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) and Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera).

Namalomba said the organisations were audited four years ago.

But he decried that NAO has been underfunded in the budget.

"This is one of the institutions that provide oversight functions," he said.

Acting Auditor General Rex Chiluzi confirmed that the money allocated to his office was manifestly inadequate and that they will need additional funding, saying the audit of foreign missions was not on its programme this financial year.

President Lazarus Chakwera in consultation with vice-president Saulos Chilima is making a host of new diplomatic appointments for Malawi, including to Embassy in United States, Washington DC, Belgium and South Africa.

The new ambassadors will be appointed as most of the country's diplomats in the foreign mission have their contracts expired and some are on recall.

The diplomats who have finished their tours of duty include Edward Yakobe Sawerengera at the Embassy in United States, Washington DC, George Mkondiwa the Malawi High Commissioner in India, Ted Kalebe (Belgium) and Kena Mphonda (United Kingdom).

Thier contracts expired in 2018 but continued serving in the Mission in their current positions following failure by government to fund their return home.

Other low-ranking diplomats have their contracts expired and others have recall letters.

They included Mike Mwanyula (Brussels), Patrick Mphepo (Dheli), some staff at Washington DC and all staff at London mission.

In the previous NAO audit, it was evealed that the country lost million of kwacha in public resources through fraudulent transactions in Malawi diplomatic missions abroad.

There has been widespread criticism over Malawi's diplomatic service which has mainly been appointed based on political affiliation to parties in government. Many have advocated for career diplomats to represent Malawi if the country is to benefit from its representation abroad through trade, among other things.

On 'top five' parastatals audit, NAO will need an additional K75 million, according to Chiluzi.

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