Malawi President Joyce Banda fires cabinet amid worsening corruption scandals

 

President Joyce Banda held an emergency cabinet meeting at her official retreat lakeside home of Chikoko Bay in Mangochi the whole Thursday afternoon.

The unprecedented dissolution of the cabinet comes amid revelations of high level corruption and plunder of government money that are being exposed almost on a daily basis in the wake of the shooting of Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo three weeks ago.

Mphwiyo was shot on September 13 as he drove into his residence in the upmarket Area 43 suburb of the capital, Lilongwe. Immediately after the shooting President Banda said the 37-year-old technocrat was targeted for his crusade of cleaning up corruption in government.

The shooting of Mphwiyo has kicked open a can of worms with the media awash with stories of how unscrupulous civil servants conniving with businessmen to fleece government of millions of dollars in dubious contracts. In the wake of the shooting the Malawi media has been inundated with reports of civil servants being found with million of kwacha under their beds or in their car trunks. At least ten people have been arrested so far after being found with unexplained loot.

Addressing a press conference on arrival from the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, President Banda warned she would crack on corrupt officials.

“I am committed to fighting fraud and corruption and it will be exposed,” she said at a press conference in Blantyre. “Nothing will deter me and this government from fighting corruption, fraud and embezzlement. I have noted the efforts by police, the Anti-Corruption Bureau and other government agencies in uncovering and intercepting large amounts of cash in homes, offices and vehicle boots of some individuals in the civil service.”

Banda, who came to power in April last year following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, said she inherited a corrupt system and she was determined to overhaul it.

“It is important to note that these revelations (the exposes) are as a result of some of the efforts by my government to stamp out corruption, fraud and embezzlement in the public sector,” she said.

Western donor nations and agencies, including the European Union and the governments of Great Britain, Japan, the US, Norway and Germany, have called an external audit in the Malawi government system.

Corruption is endemic in Malawi government finance systems so much that former Director of Public Prosecution Fahad Assani is on record as saying over 30 per cent of the national budget is lost through corruption. Former president Bakili Muluzi set up the Anti-Corruption Bureau to fight graft.

Muluzi himself and several former government officials are currently in court answering several corruption cases. Over US $100 million was said to have been lost through corruption during the ten years Muluzi was in power.

The Banda administration has also just announced that former president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in April last year from cardiac arrest complications, dubiously amassed a net wealth of 60 billion Malawi kwacha (about US $174m) during the seven years he has been in power.-TheAfricaVillage

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