Investigative and prosecution agencies must go after government officials who made decisions in Cashgate instead of simply hounding companies suspected to have been involved.
Governance observers such as Centre for Development of the People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence, Catholic University of Malawi (Cunima) economics lecturer Gilbert Kachamba, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College political analyst Mustafa Hussein and Rumphi East legislator Kamlepo Kalua (People’s Party-PP) said in separate interviews that Capital Hill should stop hiding behind the firms, but investigate and prosecute the real culprits in government.
In an interview yesterday, Trapence said: “Let us ask difficult questions here. Can a company get into government and award itself a contract? Can there even be a contract without an official in government agreeing to it? Can a company walk into a government ministry, department or agency and process a cheque payment on its own?
“The answer is negative. There was a chain of officials who were processing these. The question is: Who are they? Why aren’t they being investigated and prosecuted? Who is hiding them and only using the suspected firms as scapegoats? Government must fish out these individuals and stop hiding behind the companies.”
On his part, legislator Kalua also said the talk about 13 companies was a smokescreen to shield government officials who are the Cashgate kingpins. “They are deliberately confusing the meaning of Cashgate so that people’s focus should be more on the mentioned companies than [government officials,” he said.
Added Kalua: “There is nothing new on the list of companies that ACB [Anti-Corruption Bureau] recently talked about because they were already covered in the earlier audit.”
On his part, Kachamba said if government is shielding individuals within the public service it would mean “a lack of seriousness on the part of government” to bring to book people who made decisions that are said to have drained the taxpayers’ money.
In a separate interview yesterday, Chancellor College’s Hussein said “government has a duty to identify the suspected officials in government.”
Initially, data analysis report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released in May 2015 showed that up to K577 billion of government money could not be accounted for.
But a forensic audit by RSM Risk Assurance LLP released this year cut that figure to K236 billion.