CIVIL SOCIETY CALL FOR THE RESIGNATION OR FIRING OF MINISTER OPF FINANCE HON. KEN LIPENGA AND MRA COMMISSIONER LLYOD MUHARA
The Human Rights Consultative Committee –HRCC, Governance Platform – GF, Civic and Political Space Platform – CPSP, Human Rights Defenders Forum – HRD wishes to add weight to the voices that have called for the immediate resignation or firing of the Finance Minister Dr. Ken Lipenga and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Commissioner General, Mr Lloyd Muhara for lying to the nation about the state of the national economy by illegally obtaining a loan to demonstrate that the Zero Deficit Budget (ZBS) was manageable and sustainable with local resources.
The civil society is of the view that Hon Ken Lipenga and Commissioner Muhara did not only betray the nation but also as rightly put by other commenters broke the law through illegal borrowing of funds from commercial banks to fill in the void created by the Zero Deficit Budget. Against this background, it is only reasonable that the Minister and the Commissioner General should voluntarily resign or be relieved of their positions.
The excuses given by Honourable Lipenga that he acted out of ignorance and that he was not part of this shameful act do not add up and therefore must be challenged outright. By virtue of being the Minister of Finance he is not only supposed to know the sources of government revenue but also how to spend the same. In simple terms, he is supposed to understand how the treasury books have been balanced before he takes up the responsibility to present the same to the nation through Parliament.
Our memories are still fresh that when this issue was brought up in parliament, Hon Ken Lipenga acted up without shame and remorse that the Malawi Revenue Authority had done a commendable job in collecting enough revenue to propel the Zero Deficit Budget. It is therefore unexpected that the Minister can just wake up and tell the nation that he acted out of ignorance. We believe that Hon. Ken Lipenga lied just to cover the face of the Democratic Progressive Party ill-timed ZDB for which it would be difficult for Malawians to respect and indeed entrust their financial purse in his hands.
We contend that it is asking too much from Malawians to put up with these two gentlemen who did not only peddle lies, but also illegally borrowed funds on behalf of Malawians. The illegally acquired loan will regrettably haunt Malawians for many years to come a thing that could easily have been avoided only if these two gentlemen were honourable enough to stand by their professional ethics. Notwithstanding the preceding, we hold the two gentlemen accountable for the hardship that Malawians are going through because of such illegal act and blatant lies. It is expected that the positions that Dr Ken Lipenga and Mr Lloyd Muhara, and other public positions demand the bearers to carry out themselves with the highest level of integrity and public trust. As such, it is advisable that the two gentlemen need not be retained in public positions as their conduct put the image of government into disrepute.
To this end, we, as civil society call for the following:
1. Immediate resignation of Finance Minister, Dr Ken Lipenga and Malawi Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Mr. Lloyd Muhara. On one hand, we believe that preparation and presentation of the national budget even if it is two weeks away is a collective responsibility. On the contrary, allowing the same person who blundered to take charge of the national budget presentation also puts to question the serious of the current administration and is a serious moral and accountability issue to both tax payers and the donor community.
2. In the event of failure to voluntarily resign, we impress upon Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda to exercise her prerogative to relieve them of their respective duties.
3. Expeditious probe into the matter to establish facts about this illegal transaction. This should also entail the involvement of the bank officials in as far as this loan was concerned to serve as deterrent in future. To the effect of the findings of these investigations, all culprits should be disciplined as per their respective involvement.
In conclusion, we reiterate that if our demands are not made, we will use our constitutional rights in organising peaceful protests to demand resignation and firing the two.
Issued by the undersigned:-
Civic and Political Space Platform – CPSP Governance Platform – GF
Human Rights Consultative Committee –HRCC Human Rights Defenders Forum – HRD
Issued 10th May 2012