Funding hiccups have hit hard the graft-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), with staff facing the likelihood of going into the festive season without getting their December pay cheques.
In the 2014/15 budget, ACB was allocated K1.41 billion (about $2.8m), of which K355 million (about $750 000) would cater for salaries.
But the salaries have not been released to ACB and it has since exhausted its funding from the earlier three months budget.
ACB deputy director general Reyneck Matemba confirmed the salaries crisis in an interview on Monday, adding that they have had several meetings with officials from Treasury over the matter.
Said Matemba: “The last time we met we were assured that officers of the bureau will be able to receive their December salaries. We are confident, therefore, that Treasury is doing everything within its power to ensure that finances are made available to cater for salaries for officers of the Bureau.”
Matemba said, however, that the funding has had no impact on operations, especially prosecutions, but that is only because the Judiciary is currently on strike. ACB staff are currently in their second week of their own strike demanding salary hikes.
But Matemba said investigations have since been scaled down to almost a halt largely because of the funding blues.
Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya also confirmed in a questionnaire that Treasury explained the shortfall to the Bureau and meetings have been held to make adjustments during the mid-term budget review, which usually comes in the January-February window.
On the salary increments, Msowoya said there was an allocation under the Department of Human Resource Management and Development.
“These are some funds, which will be used to fund ministries to take care of the increases that were effected in October, including ACB,” he said.
In September this year, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe announced what he initially called a 167 percent increase to the ACB allocation compared to last year to allow them expedite Cashgate investigations and prosecution.
However, Parliament discovered, and Gondwe confirmed, that the increase only related to other recurrent transactions (ORT) due to the non-allocation to the development budget.
Meanwhile, the ACB strike continues as discussions between government and ACB continue.
On Saturday, the ACB support staff shunned the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day in Mzuzu where President Peter Mutharika was in attendance.