A group of five renowned Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), through the lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa, this week penned the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and requested it to return the monies it received from parastatals and city councils during its fundraising dinner known as Blue Night; this must be done within seven days.
On 29 July, 2017 during the Blue Night fundraising event in Lilongwe, DPP received millions of Kwachas from the parastatals and councils.
This development received criticism from different sectors in Malawi, include CSOs and the Malawi Law Society, who demand for the refund of the said money.
However, DPP through its Secretary-General Gridezer Jeffrey WA Jeffrey, and the Party’s Vice President for the Central region Dr Hetherwick Ntaba, rebuffed the call. They say the concerned parastatals and councils donated the funds on their own free will.
In response to the DPP stand, the CSO grouping that includes Youth and Society (YAS), Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), Livingstonia Synod Church, and Society Programme, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), plans to drag the DPP to court, if it fails to abide to the group’s demands within seven days starting from Thursday this week.
Apart from refunding the money, the CSOs also demand that the ruling Party should furnish the public with a list of all public/statutory corporations that made the donations and provide the amounts donated.
According to the CSOs, the conduct was part of misuse and abuse of public resources contrary to Malawi’s legal framework and that, as a ruling party, it owes Malawians the duty to inform them how it uses public resources.
“The law requires that every public expenditure be authorised by a necessary Appropriation Act, unless it is a statutory expenditure [see Section 178 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and Section 23 of the Public Finance Management Act],” reads part of the letter.
Adding “as for expenditures by statutory corporations, Section 76 of the Public Finance Management Act, provides that funds held by statutory bodies must only be applied for the purposes specified in the relevant empowering Acts.”
The CSOs wondered why DPP did that despite it being aware that such parastatals and councils are in financial crisis. This is a development that is forcing it to render poor services to Malawians.
When asked for her comment, DPP secretary generally Gridezer Jeffrey WA Jeffrey, said she is yet to receive the letter from the CSOs. She then referred this reporter to Chairperson of the fundraising committee for the Lilongwe Blue Night, Dr Hetherwick Ntaba or DPP Publicity Secretary Francis Kasaila.
In his remarks, Ntaba also said he had not seen the letter, and that once he gets it, he would discuss the matter with WA Jeffrey and Kasaila on the same.
Some political analysts are wondering why our governors, especially in the ruling Party, behave as if Malawi is still a one-party state, with the invincible MCP under Kamuzu, who treated Government and parastatal entities as the private chattels.
“This abuse of public funds, must stop. Government holds the moneyed from taxes; they hold the money in trust,” one analyst said