Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has come under scrutiny over how the security agency manages procurement and financial transactions.
Revelations of misprocurement and overexpenditure in the National Audit Office (NAO) Malawi Government Accounts Audit for the year-ended June 30 2017 come after MDF was also embroiled in Cashgate—the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill—exposed in 2013 which saw some of its top brass facing criminal charges.
In the fresh audit, NAO said it noted misallocation of funds, payments without supporting vouchers, unaccounted for fuel and materials, among others.
MDF has not responded to audit queries since 2014, according to the audit report.
In the 2015/16 financial year alone, the Auditor General reported that K6.3 billion was charged to a wrong account and that MDF failed to explain what happened to that money.
In the 2015/16 financial year, MDF was also involved in procurement transactions without supporting payment vouchers amounting to over K1 billion which up to date, the Auditor General’s office says cannot be ascertained or traced.
In 2013/14, MDF is reported to have denied the Auditor General access to payment vouchers amounting to K7.2 billion contrary to Section 7(1) of the Public Audit Act of 2003 which empowers the Auditor General or any other officer delegated by him to have unlimited access to all documents and books of accounts of government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), among other things, that are subject to audit for his examination.
However, reads the report: “Contrary to the above requirement, payment vouchers amounting to K7 229 251 318.84 were not produced for audit. As a result, the audit team could not ascertain the propriety and validity of such expenditure.”
MDF spokesperson Paul Chiphwanya declined to comment on the findings in the Auditor General’s report.
MDF is also on record to have charged K5.6 billion to a wrong vote in the 2013/14 financial year which to date is yet to be cleared and explained.
Treasury Instruction 4.14 (1) requires that all expenditures should be charged to an appropriate vote and that expenditure should be classified strictly in accordance with the estimates.
Reacting to the audit queries, Public Accounts Committee of Parliament chairperson Alekeni Menyani, whose committee provides oversight, said they are yet to scrutinise the report having in the past complained about mismanagement of finances and public resources by MDAs.
In a separate interview, economist Dalitso Kubalasa said it was unfortunate that every year bad procurement decisions are made by MDAs.
He said proper procurement processes ideally aim to prevent fraudulent appointments, favouritism and to ensure that bonafide suppliers are engaged.
“Despite government’s policies, contracts were assigned to suppliers without competitive processes or proper approvals from the internal procurement committee.
“Spending large amounts on a single contract remains one of the most contentious issues in government. In the scheme of the law this requires government entities to follow strict processes,” said Kubalasa who is also executive director of Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn).