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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

CDEDI pens ACB on dubious allowances…seeks disclosures from MoF

By Iommie Chiwalo

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has asked the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to seriously investigate senior government officials who are allegedly involved in abuse of tax payers money through unjustified allowance claims.

In a letter made available to this publication, CDEDI Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa, who has also penned minister of finance for disclosures, says the call comes after a spate of arrests at the Accountant Generals (AG) department, where junior public servants are accused of defrauding the Malawi Government of huge sums of money.

Namiwa wants the matter thoroughly investigated because the present scenario raises serious questions about the safety of the public funds and the competence of those entrusted with the roles of controlling officers, and even the treasury for allowing any officer to draw money from the public purse as it pleases them.

He says the current trend signifies that the national purse is so vulnerable such that an accountant can draw money from it on their own.

“If this is the case, then who else is drawing money on their own behind the taxpayers’ backs,” queries Namiwa in the letter addressed to ACB Director General, Martha Chizuma.

Ministry of Finance recently confirmed investigating irregular transactions at AGs
department and that the investigations had exposed fraudulent activities perpetrated by personnel in the department for personal gain.

CDEDI which refuses to believe that government protocols and the system guidelines can only favour junior staff to benefit from the consolidated account, says prompt action by the ACB on the stated issues, will put to rest fears that the country is exposed to high level mediocrity and shameless plunder of public resources at the expense of millions of Malawians that are walloping in dehumanising poverty.

Senior government officials allegedly involved in the dubious allowances include Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni who is alleged to have claimed a total of 372 nights in a calendar year of 365 days, and
accumulated MWK20,475,000.00 in the process, using vote number 351, where he draws allowances from, between September 2021 and June 2022.

This can be narrowed down into 134 nights in March, where four vouchers were paid in his favour on March 25, 2022 alone, 69 nights in May 2022 and 34 local and 3 external travel allowances in October 2021.

Namiwa has since asked the bureau to investigate allegations that between September 2021 and June 2022, the vote for the Accountant General, Jean Munyenyembe, allegedly accumulated dubious allowances contrary to her role as a desk officer who makes a final approval of government payments in the IFIMS.

Some allegations are indicating that in March 2022, the Accountant General (AG) had a total of 64 nights in allowances, paid at a local rate of MWK55,000.00 per night, 3 nights paid at the external rate.

“Madam Director, it is common knowledge that on average public servants work at least for 21 days. How would the AG, whose work requires her to be in the office, be out of the office for 64 days in a month,” queries Namiwa.

He further notifies ACB Boss on allegations that in January the AG claimed 19 nights and in February 17, a situation which raises questions as to who approved and
managed government payments in the said three months in the absence of the AG.

The current Mining Minister Albert Mbawala is also alleged to be embroiled in the dubious allowances and that calls for an ‘ACB eye’.

According to CDEDI Executive Director, it is alleged that soon after his appointment into cabinet, Mbawala was paid MWK4 million on January 28, 2022, to
enable him settle down, when the revised conditions of services for the cabinet ministers and their deputies do not have that kind of allowance.

Additionally, Mbawala is believed to have claimed external travel allowances amounting to MKW 2.6 million to audit embassies while serving as a member of the Public Accounts
Committee (PAC) of parliament, prior to his ministerial appointment.

“This begs the question as to when did the Members of Parliament assumed the roles of auditors,”

The letter from CDEDI has been received by the ACB and the Bureau is yet to notify the general public on next course of action.

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