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MCP’s response to Malawi government’s cash-gate statement delivered in Parliament-Full text

MALAWI CONGRESS PARTY

RESPONSE PRESENTED BY

THE RT. HON. REV. DR. LAZARUS CHAKWERA

PRESIDENT OF THE MCP

On

Friday, 25th October, 2013

At the MCP NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS

LILONGWE

MALAWI

MALAWI CONGRESS PARTY

RESPONSE PRESENTED BY

THE RT. HON. REV. DR. LAZARUS CHAKWERA

PRESIDENT OF THE MCP

On

Friday, 25th October, 2013

At the MCP NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS

LILONGWE

MALAWI

 MCP RESPONSE TO THE SPEECH MADE BY THE RT HONOURABLE KHUMBO HASTINGS KACHALI, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI AT THE 3RD MEETING OF PARLIAMENT IN THE 44TH SESSION SAY NO TO CORRUPT POLITICIANS AND SAVE MALAWI

In the wake of the atrocious plunder of the public funds whose epicentre is at the seat of the Malawi Government-Capitol Hill, it is easy to engage in blame game. While it is very disheartening to hear of the sums involved and yet it is even more depressing to note that those at the centre of this shameless loot and plunder are walking freely to enjoy the spoils of an official kleptocracy.

The Malawi Congress Party has followed the sordid details of how those charged with the responsibility to look after and safeguard the public purse decided to put themselves first at the expense of starving and sick Malawians. We have also followed keenly on the official response on these events from the President of this country.

While Malawians thought that the Government was going to deal with this thievery with the forthrightness it deserves, we have observed deliberate attempts to deflect peoples’ attention by peddling numerous fantastic illusions that have nothing to do with the issues at hand. The Malawi Congress Party took its time to critically examine the Report presented by the Rt Honourable Khumbo Hastings Kachali-to the National Assembly.

We are desirous of putting certain things into clear perspective and wish to add our voice to the on-going financial tragedy and the knee jerk reaction of the Government. This press release therefore attempts to put across the views of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to Malawians, especially those who sincerely take serious exception to the endemic abuse of public resources.

1.0 LEGAL FRAMEWORK

The Government of Malawi functions with a specific legal framework which sets out very clear mandates, powers, functions, duties and responsibilities. We wish to remind Malawians and the Government of the following central provisions of some of the laws at the centre of the management of public resources in Malawi.

1.1 REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION

Section 12(1), paragraphs (a) and (b) of the Republican Constitution states and we quote:

“This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles—

(a) all legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution solely to serve and protect their interests;

(b) all persons responsible for the exercise of powers of State do so on trust and shall only exercise such power to the extent of their lawful authority and in accordance with their responsibilities to the people of Malawi.”

Again, section 173 of the same Constitution states as follows:

“No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund except—

(a) to meet expenditure that is charged upon the Fund by this Constitution or by any Act of Parliament consistent with this Constitution; or

(b) where the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Appropriation Act, a Supplementary Appropriation Act or by an Act made in pursuance of subsection (5) of this section or of sections 178, 179, 180, 181 or 182 or by a resolution of the National Assembly made in accordance with section 177”

Finally, section 184(2) of the Republican Constitution provides as follows:

“(2) The Auditor General shall submit reports at least once a year to the National Assembly, through the Minister responsible for Finance, not later than the first meeting of the National Assembly after the completion of the report”

We can go on to quote chapter and verse of the Public Finance management Act, the Public Audit Act, the Corrupt Practices Act, the Penal Code etc. all of which contain very exhaustive provisions on public finance management or various criminal offences ranging from outright corruption and fraud to abuse of office.

We would like to emphasise therefore that the loot and plunder that has taken place in Malawi has been done so in clear and blatant breach of clear laws. The Government need not improvise any action in the face of this massive pilferage of public resources because the law is clear.

It must be understood therefore that we are not dealing with accidental theft or petty corruption, we are dealing with a deliberate and Government orchestrated embezzlement of public finances. So any pretence that someone somewhere might have taken advantage of legal loopholes must be dismissed outright with the contempt it deserves.

2.0 GOVERNMENT’S REPORT TO PARLIAMENT

On Monday, 21st October 2013, the Right Honourable K.H. Kachali introduced the Government Report in Parliament with a promise that it will to deal with two issues among others, namely:

1. The problems facing the Public Financial Management System; and

2. The public outcry for declaration of assets by Senior Public Officers.

Without unloading the problems facing the Public Financial Management System and public outcry on the declaration of assets by the senior public officers, Report goes straight to explaining how the PP led Government remains steadfast in fighting corruption in the country. While the general feeling would have it that the Report was meant to outline the roadmap on what went wrong and how such wrongs will be straightened, the Report deliberately focuses on the popular evil; ‘corruption’.

The approach of the Report has left Malawians wondering whether the Capitol Hill is really hit by a corruption scandal or a theft one i.e. IFMIS aided looting? Or does the theft by public servant exactly tantamount to corruption?

2.1 THE ALLEGED GOVERNMENT STANCE ON FIGHTING CORRUPTION

The Report says that on more than one occasion President Joyce Banda did raise the alarm to her Minister of Finance and other unnamed officials that the IFMIS has loopholes that needed to be sealed. Sadly the Report does not tell Malawians as how the President came to know about those loopholes and what the Minister of Finance then did afterwards.

The report further fails to mention the strategies which were put in place after the Minister of Finance was summoned to seal the discovered loopholes in the IFMIS. Our guess is that, the Government was waiting for Mr Paul Mphwiyo to be shot before it started fumbling for strategies in a media blitz fashioned to hoodwink Malawians into thinking that the Government has always been committed to routing corruption out.

The Government including the President has perpetually admitted that the case of an accounts clerk caught with MK400 million in his account was discontinued with orders from above. This incident took place way back in 2011 and we assume that the President has always known about this. Were the Government committed to fighting corruption and abuse of public resources, why has it not taken any action about this case?

We further hear that between 2009 and 2012, the DPP-led Government plundered a whooping MK91 billion and there is an Audit Report to this effect. Why did the PP-led Government wait until now to tell Malawians about this? But even more importantly, what else is the PP-led Government waiting for to bring those responsible for this massive theft to book?

The frantic efforts to explain the situation on the cash-gate scandal to everybody who matters in Malawi must be taken with a big pitch of salt. Why did she wait until now to tell the nation all about this massive pilferage of public resources at Capital Hill?

We are calling upon all Malawians to be wary of the crocodile tears the Government is shedding over this issue. The truth remains that the Government is neither innocent about this nor a victim of a financial system gone awry. The Government is the perpetrator of this heinous kleptocracy that has come to characterise the public service in Malawi.

Furthermore, whereas the Report states what the President has been telling leaders of opposition parties and the donor community, it does not make any mention of what the Donor Community offered as a way forward to fighting the fraud and the pilferage that has characterised PP-led Government.

The report acknowledges that fraud and pilferage are the main achievements of our democratic governments for the past 19 years. Those who were old enough before 19 years ago know very well that no public servant would dare, let alone with the help of the banks attempt to defraud the Malawi Government. As usual the report kept on reminding Malawians that the previous governments are to blame in all this. Malawians are however, fully aware that the current President, her Vice and some key Ministers were actually part of the elite in all those previous Governments.

On 16th September 2013, the Report says that the President met the Chief Secretary to Government, Commissioner General (MRA Boss) and the Auditor General instructing them to start auditing government books of accounts. One cannot help wonder, why the President instructed the tax collecting body boss and the boss of the civil servants to start auditing government books of accounts.

The laws of the land are very clear on who is mandated to audit public finances. We have quoted but just one example in the opening paragraphs of this Statement. If this Report is a true reflection of what the President did, then either the President is seriously ignorant about the laws of the land or she simply is bluffing.

Whichever the case may be, in the event that the President did indeed give these instructions, then Malawi as a Nation has all the reasons to get worried with the frame of mind of the President. This means that Malawi is in real serious leadership trouble. The President can only be seen as clueless and without interest to know the functionalities of her top servants.

And this does not give evidence or render credence to the claim that the President is steadfast on fighting corruption when she confuses the functions of the Auditor General to those of SPC and MRA Commissioner General. A loaded instruction of such nature hardly inspires hope to Malawians on the seriousness, not only on the Government’s claim on the fight against corruption but even on the personal competences of the President herself in running the affairs of mother Malawi.

It is, therefore, important to note that this is no laughing matter as we all know that it was the accidental shooting of Mr Paul Mphwiyo that has led to the Cash-Gate Scandal. Events following such a tragedy cannot neither constitute a breakthrough nor herald credible acclamation of zero tolerance to corruption.

If the Government will wait for another Malawian to be shot in order to sort out the mess in FISP or the alleged rotting of maize at NFRA, then the PP led Government has truly ushered into Malawi’s political history a comprehensive management by crisis. Such turn of events does not border on political mediocrity; it is monumental economic tragedy from which Malawi may never recover.

Malawians are aware that when a lizard falls from a tree to the ground, it cannot start clapping hands for itself claiming that it has “jumped” from the tree. Spectators always know that the lizard has in fact fallen.

This is what has happened to President Joyce Banda and her Government-they have fallen down from the high ground.

2.2 PROPOSED IMMEDIATE ACTION TAKEN BY PP LED GOVERNMENT

The Report suggests that in the short term, the PP led Government has put the following measures to arrest the situation from permanently getting out of hand:-

2.2.1 IFMIS has been suspended and they have gone back to the old system which the report does not say why it was initially discarded. The question however, is, ‘how does suspending the system help the investigators catch those who have already stolen through the system?

2.2.2 Controlling officers who are directly linked are either posted away or in the process of being posted away to allow investigations run without interference. The leading words are either/or. Their usage can only mean that the Government does not know for a fact as to what it is doing with those officers linked to the Cash-Gate Scandal or does care as to how it deals with them to recover the monies’. And by the way when did the criminal law of the land punish a crime by transferring the perpetrator from office to another?

2.2.3 Law Enforcing Agencies have been provided with additional resources to facilitate the investigations. What types of resources have been provided at this point? Can this be verified?

On the results or the successes on the alleged fight against corruption, the Government claims that it has recovered the deleted data while at the same time admitting that the fraudulent transactions started way back in 2006.

Unless we are all mistaken, the wind about the deleted transactions seems to have first come from the media and not necessarily from the Government. The report presented in Parliament does not even have the list of the beneficiaries of the ‘IFMIS Self Financing Fund’. Malawians are also aware that both President Joyce Banda and Kachali were together with Bingu in 2006 when all this started, why did they not stop the thievery then?

3.0 WHAT MALAWI CONGRESS PARTY WILL DO TO CURE THIS DISEASE

Guided by the spirit of unwavering patriotism and integrity, MCP will liberate Malawians from this wanton misuse of taxpayers’ money by taking the following measures:-

3.1 The President will be given a clear job description to ensure that he stays in office and understand the systems of his government instead of guessing the functionalities of his officers.

3.2 No accounting or financial management technology will be brought into the Government financial and administrative management systems before the officers managing it receive a specialised training on the technology. And where such technologies are implemented, they will be subjected to periodic audits and back-ups to avoid situations similar to the IFMIS saga.

3.3 Civil servants will not be allowed to do any inside trading as the case is right now. In the event that any civil servant is caught doing inside trading activities, his/her employment contract with the Government will be terminated to allow such a person concentrate on his/her business.

3.4 All fraud and pilferage cases will be independently investigated by the relevant authorities and the President will not be involved in assembling teams that carry out such investigations.

3.5 IFMIS will be permanently discarded as it has proved to be inferior technology to the minds of devious Malawians bent on plundering the public resources.

3.6 Directors of Budgets will only be experienced professionals recruited on merit and will not be allowed to do the job of the Anti-Corruption Bureau as they are not properly trained to curb corruption via that route.

3.7 All the beneficiaries to the Cash Gate scandal will be re-investigated and be brought to book. The investigations will include the current big fishes that are currently protected by the constitution. Government servants will be required to explain their wealth when deem un-proportional to their income sources.

3.8 The banks involved in all the Cash Gate Scandal having flouted the rules and regulations of the country governing deposits and withdrawals, will be investigated and closed down when found aiding and abating the money laundering activities that the Cash Gate Scandal has created.

3.9 The senior employees in Government, commercial banks as well as at the Reserve Bank of Malawi who will be found to have been involved in this scandal will be brought to book and their ill-gotten wealth will be moved to government coffers.

3.10 Recruitment of controlling officers and the entire civil service recruitment exercise will be based on merit and not on creed, region, political leaning or one’s tribe.

3.11 Laws which promote corruption like Public Procurement Act, -Money Laundering Act and the Corrupt Practices Act will be repealed until they start serving Malawians both poor as well as rich. We have no business in having laws that protect crooks.

3.12 Public servants involved in any theft cases will be prosecuted under the Penal Code and not through Corrupt Practice Act as there is no evidence that corruption can be fought using this piece of legislation.

3.13 The issues of asset declaration by senior public servants which have not been addressed in this report will seriously be implemented as we take over the government after elections next year. We strongly believe that refusing to declare one’s wealth while holding a highest office is an admission of one’s involvement in corruption and ill-gotten wealth.

3.14 MRA will independently be allowed to ensure that every one pays tax including the President and the Vice to ensure that they become good stewards of the public resources.

4.0 CONCLUSION

We wish to conclude this Statement by quoting the oath of office of the President as a reminder to all Malawians that there is someone who is responsible for running the affairs of this country. Section 81(1) of the Republican Constitution requires every President to promise all Malawians by saying this:

“I, …………. do solemnly swear that I will well and truly perform the functions of the high office of President (or Vice-President) of the Republic of Malawi, and that I will preserve and defend the Constitution, and that I will do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. So help me God.”

The Government has publicly acknowledged that the DPP-led Government looted over MK90 billion from the public confers, it is now up to the PP-led Government to do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. The President has promised to all and sundry not to shield any, it is time that she matched her words with action.

We in Malawi Congress Party, on behalf of numerous Malawians who sleep on empty stomachs and dying due to shortage of drugs therefore, ask the current Government to stop blaming previous governments and focus on providing solutions.

After all, the President and his Vice have been part of UDF, DPP and now PP and all these parties are responsible for the corruption that is fast bringing down the Malawi economy on its knees. The political interlude of words and pretence has run its course. The President must not enforce the laws of this country as head of the Executive Branch of Government instead hiding behind Parliament.

The Malawi Congress Party does not wish to turn this event into a campaign tool, and it would be unfathomable for any Malawian who is paying exorbitant taxes, high fuel costs, high bank interest rates etc. to forgive the PP-led Government with the knowledge that not only has introduced harsh economic reforms, but it has also presided over one of the worst get-rich government sponsored looting of public confers at Capital Hill.

Say no to corrupt politicians and save Malawi! Remember, MCP has already proved that it can run a corruption free Government. Please, try us you will never again regret.

This article was last modified on September 4, 2016, 9:30 pm

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