The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) says it wants names of 20 members of Parliament (MPs) suspected of mismanaging Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to be made public and the culprits brought to book.
Speaking during a political rally at Mphompha in Rumphi on Saturday, DPP Northern Region governor Kenneth Sanga said some legislators were taking CDF as personal funds, depriving their constituents of development.
He said: “You are aware that authorities have names of some 20 MPs who are suspected to have mismanaged CDF. We want those names made public and that the matter has to be followed to its logical conclusion. Those that mismanaged, must be taken to court and justice must prevail.”
Sanga urged relevant authorities to ensure CDF and other public funds are used for their intended purposes.
“Not all this money is put to good use. We have some MPs who misuse this money instead of prioritising development projects. This money has gone into some people’s pockets. We have examples here in the North and I am sure the issue is being tackled by authorities,” he said.
During the budget meeting last June, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said that an internal audit revealed that at least 20 MPs, whom he did not mention, abused about K80 million from the K3 billion allocated to 16 of the country’s 28 district councils.
The audit covered a sample of about K1 billion utilised by the councils in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years to establish whether CDF was used for its intended purposes, according to the Auditor General.
Last November, Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya ordered the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, which provides oversight functions to government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), to team up with Ministry of Finance and Auditor General to probe the allegations.
In an interview with The Nation last December, PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said his committee was still waiting for an audit report from the Ministry of Finance.
Gondwe was quoted in The Nation of December 16 2017 as having said the report, prepared by the Central Internal Audit Unit, was already shared with Parliament as instructed by the Speaker.
But Menyani challenged the Finance Minister to produce evidence that the National Assembly was given the report, insisting that his committee could not conduct the investigation without it.
The PAC chairperson had earlier exonerated his fellow legislators, arguing that MPs do not control finances at district level.
Efforts to speak to Menyani yesterday were futile as his phone could not be reached.
In an earlier interview, European Union (EU) Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann described as disheartening revelations of widespread abuse and mismanagement of public funds, especially CDF, in the country.
He warned that the lack of accountability, puts Malawi at risk of losing money which could have been used to improve essential services of health, education and agriculture.
“If we don’t have accountability, we run the risk of investing in wrong projects, those which don’t have any benefits for us and we run the risk of not being able to move out of poverty,” the ambassador added.
In the K1.3 trillion 2017/18 National Budget, legislators held to ransom a K193.8 billion allocation to the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) as a bargaining chip for Gondwe to increase their CDF.
The MPs demanded a 66 percent increase in CDF from K18 million to K30 million, but Gondwe said it would only be increased to K23 million.