By Alick Mhango

Malawi government has on Tuesday talked tough of corruption at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and a senior official in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy say some of the directors at the power house have been fired.

Chimwemwe Banda, chief director (Energy) in the ministry told the parliamentary committee on Government Assurance Committee on Tuesday that corruption at Escom reached embarrassing levels.

“This is why we have now restructured the Escom management set up. We have now hired new directors. The restructuring process was instituted to get rid of corrupt elements,” she said.

Banda said this in response to a question from a member of Parliament’s Commission on what action they have taken following reports of 3.8 million litres of diesel theft of about K1.9 billion, misprocurement of power gensets and financial mismanagement at Escom.

This is the first time that the government has come in the open to concede financial malfeaces at Escom.

Banda told the parliamentarians that Escom offcials used to buy items which were not needed at all and used to hire vehicles when they were not wanted probably just to get kick-backs.

“The ministry is not pleased with corruption at Escom. We are not pleased at all, this is why the government undertook the restructuring program,” she said.

Banda said the new ESCOM management led by CEO Allexon Chiwaya would clean the slate.

“A task force has been formed by the board to scrutinise procurement transactions and there is a new procurement officer seconded from the government,” Banda said.

Parliamentarians sitting on the committee applauded the government for being bold enough to tackle corruption head on at Escom.

Some of the committee members said the move by the government showed that the corruption at Escom was not high-level sanctioned.

Some government reports indicate Escom, Admarc and water boards are worse when it comes to corruption but the government seem not to do anything to curb the situation.

The audit of Escom financial statement for the financial year ended june 30, 2017 found that the corporation ordered goods worth K8.3 billion from about 23 suppliers without following internal procurement procedures and without the knowledge of key management.

Out of K8.3 billion worth of items, Escom only needed K3.2 billion of them.