As hearing of the conspiracy to murder and attempted murder cases of former budget director in the Ministry of Finance Paul Mphwiyo resumed at the High Court in Lilongwe this morning, defense witness Friday Jumbe told the court that a budget director has no mandate to make payments.
One of the accused in the conspiracy to murder and attempted murder cases, Macdonald Kumwembe, paraded Jumbe as his witness due to his knowledge of public finance management.
It follows Mphwiyo’s submission in his affidavit that he was “being pressurised by politicians and Cabinet Ministers to make payments”.
But Jumbe, a former Minister of Finance, said under public finance management, the budget director has no power to issue or make payments.
“It is not possible because a budget director works under the Secretary to Treasury. If the holder of that office issues payments, then procedures are being flouted,” said Jumbe when Kumwembe asked him on the role of a budget director in relation to issuance of payments.
However, when Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mary Kachale quizzed Jumbe on whether he could be a witness of truth on the role of a budget director, Jumbe refused, saying he could not bear such witness.
Said Jumbe: “I don’t know the parameters under which Mphwiyo was working.”
Kachale asked again: “Do public servants follow the law?
In response, Jumbe conceded that “sometimes” public servants flout procedures. He also admitted that even during his time at the Ministry of Finance, his office made substantial payments and that other people were being prioritised.
Kumwembe’s second witness, Hophmally Makande, a former spokesperson for the then ruling Peoples’ Party (PP), refused to be drawn to comment on Mphwiyo’s claims that politicians were pressurising him to make payments.
“I did not give Mphwiyo 10 days to make payments. I don’t know anything and, therefore, cannot say anything. But I know that Pika Manondo [second accused] and Mphwiyo were good friends. His brother lived with Mphwiyo some years back and they were always together,” said Makande.
Makande also revealed that former Justice Minister Raphael Kasambara, who is facing the charge of conspiracy to murder the former budget director, never wanted Mphwiyo to be appointed into that position.
“Kasambara was against Paul Mphwiyo’s appointment as budget director. In fact, I remember one day while we were eating nsima at his house, Kasambara said Mphwiyo has a bad track record and he would mess up things at the Ministry of Finance,” said Makande.
The case has since been adjourned to tomorrow, January 5 2016 from 9am.
Mphwiyo was shot outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013, a shooting which is believed to have exposed the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill that came to be known as Cashgate.