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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Chakwera under pressure to fire Finance Minister Gwengwe over financial crimes

…Pressure mounts for him to be arrested as well

Chakwera and his errand boy Sosten Gwengwe

Malawi President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera is facing stern calls to fire his Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe and Secretary to President and Cabinet Collen Zamba for forging a government document.

Chakwera’s errand boys; Gwengwe and Zamba are being accused by the public court of forging a document; in which government sealed a U$170 Million shabby deal with a UK-based company Auzano Capital Management Ltd.

According to a forged document in our custody, acting on behalf of Malawi Government the Finance Minister Gwengwe signed a deal with Auzano Capital Management Ltd to act as a guarantor for Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM).

In the suspicious multi-dollar deal, Auzano Capital Management Ltd was asked by government to find a financier who will help SFFRFM to buy fertilizer from UK under this year’s Affordable Input Programme (AIP).

The more shocking revelations is that Gwengwe went ahead to issue the Guarantee without the knowledge of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA).

Meanwhile, legal scholars in the country have faulted Gwengwe over the document, which according to them lacks Reserve Banking of Malawi (RBM) and legal backing, hence the need for authorities to arrest the two.

“Where did Gwengwe get the powers and authority to sign the deal on behalf of government? Did Chakwera give a nod? Was Parliament aware,” asks one of legal scholars from University of Malawi.

Another Scholar and social commentator said: “Finance Minister Gwengwe should not be just fired, but arrested for issuing a forged document since it doesn’t comply with the laws of the country.”

However, the forged document states that: “The Guarantor confirms that it has obtained all necessary authority and powers for the issuing and execution of this Guarantee is enforced in its terms.”

The Minister further indicated that all warrants and necessary processes and procedures required in assurance of the Guarantee were duly complied in accordance with the public finance management act (Cap.37:02) of the laws of Malawi.

The embattled Minister of Finance Gwengwe is also on record to have told Parliament recently that Cabinet-which is chaired by the President-approved the Guarantee.

He says the Public Finance Management Act provides that Cabinet should be satisfied that it is merited to issue a SG. The minister alleged that cabinet sat on 9th September and approved it.

However, considering that PPDA, CGU and ACB have all been denied processing the Auzano Contract, what satisfied cabinet to approve this SG?

“As a Minister of Finance you take a request for issuance of SG to Cabinet, and you don’t know whether the beneficiary was dully approved through a legitimate process? And the whole cabinet doesn’t question such approvals and vetting?,” wondered a governance expert from Mzuzu University.

He added: “We are facing a cabal here. A group of incompetent and dishonest people pretending they are dealing with matters of public interest, it’s so sad.”

An investigation by this publication has established that Auzano Capital Management Ltd has only been in operational for a period of one year, has no permanent address and a website.

Auzano was only 10 months old when Gwengwe and his cabinet colleagues found it satisfying to approve an SG of USD170 million. They have no financial statements, no accounts that should have informed Gwengwe and his colleagues in Cabinet of Auzano’s suitability to perform.

If President Dr. Chakwera is satisfied with this process, then much doubt about his competence

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