Fraud has hit government sponsored Civonets after it allegedly registered a ghost worker Annie Ndhlazi on government payroll, pocketing K1.2 million at the expense of deserving players that have been sweating on the court to qualify for a monthly salary, Weekend Nation has established.
The Lilongwe based club’s vice-chairperson Matilda Chibwe and treasurer Agnes Chaima have been implicated as pioneers of the scandal.
Apart from creating the ghost worker, the two are also accused of fraudulently recommending Ndhlazi, a Likuni Township resident, to be employed as messenger in the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC).
That post was meant for a genuine Civonets player following a programme which gives some qualified players a chance of being recruited in the Civil Service.
Weekend Nation has established that the club’s executive committee instituted an internal investigation after it suspected that Ndhlazi was fraudulently recommended for the job on pretext that she was a player.
Civonets and its reserve side Boma Stars has over 30 players but only 20 were pencilled on the payroll as per an OPC order, sources have said.
“Those not on payroll get a small allowances that is paid periodically,” said the source
The club’s investigation report, whose copy we have seen, is addressed to the main Civo executive committee which oversees Civonets, Civil Sporting Club and Civo Stadium.
The report, signed by the club’s chairperson Ethel Phwitiko-Muphuwa, is titled: “Report on fraud actions by Civonets executive committee members: Mrs M. Chibwe and Miss A. Chaima.”
In it, Muphuwa reports that the investigation was launched after she received a phone call from an anonymous source who “blamed me for recommending someone outside Civonets to be employed by the OPC.”
In the report, the chairperson further states: “Immediately, I called the team manager of Boma Stars Mrs Thoko Ndalama to ask if she knew the name of Annie Ndhlazi, but she said she did not have that name in her books.
“Then I called my vice [Chibwe] to ask if she was sure that the girl was a player and she said yes, she belonged to Boma Stars.”
She said the contradictory statements forced her to investigate the matter.
In the report, Muphuwa said she summoned Ndhlazi to an interrogation where she confessed that she was aided by Chibwe and Chaima to appear on the payroll.
“Ndhlazi confessed that she was not an official for Civonets nor a player. She revealed that she was assisted to be amongst the list of officials for Civonets by Mrs Chibwe and Miss Chaima,” the report reads.
Weekend Nation investigations have established that she was pocketing about K152 000 a month through account number 13432813 held at NBS Capital City branch, a copy of her payslip shows.
The year long contract she signed as a “Civonets player”, whose copy we have seen, was supposed to run until 31 July 2018.
However, a list which Civonets submitted to OPC in August last year, consisting officials and players to be on the club payroll, Ndhlazi appears as an official.
But since she was employed as messenger at OPC in March this year, as per the club rules when a player is recruited as a civil servant, she was taken off payroll. However, by then she had pocketed salaries for eight months amounting to over K1.2 million.
Ndhlazi, according to the report, also confessed that to get the job at OPC “she was assisted by Mrs Chibwe”.
She, however, said she was not related to the two Civonets officials but “that her husband, a Mr. D.J Kamkondo, is Chaima’s [treasurer] boss at Chief Resident Magistrate, Lilongwe”.
In the investigation report, the Civonets executive committee said that Chibwe, on three occasions, maintained that Ndhlazi was a player but changed her statement after she was informed that Ndhlazi has confessed having no links with the club.
“Mrs Chibwe apologised for what happened, saying she did it unknowingly. In conclusion, I expressed my disappointment with my vice and the treasurer for agreeing to recruit a ghost worker. I told them that this was a serious matter—a fraud in nature as it involved government funds,” the chairperson writes in the report.
The report recommended that Ndhlazi be dismissed from her OPC job and be replaced by a real player and that she pays back the money she was receiving as a ghost player/official.
In an interview with Weekend Nation, the Civonets chairperson Muphuwa confirmed instituting the investigation but refused to comment further.
“This is an internal matter and it is unfortunate that it has leaked. I won’t comment much because this issue was left in the hands of the main executive committee,” she said.
Ndhlazi cut off the line after the topic was introduced to her. She could not later pick up our calls. However, among the documents we have sourced, there is a letter in which she confessed not being a player.
In the letter which she tendered to the executive committee during the investigations, Ndhlazi admits that she has neither been a player nor an official for Civonets.
She wrote: “Ndakhala ndikulandila ndalama ngati salary K152 000 kuyambira August 2017. Koma sindine official. Anandiuza ndi a Chaima ndi amayi Chibwe. Amene anandilembetsera account ndi a Chaima. [I have been receiving K152 000 as salary from August 2017. But I am not an official. It was Chaima and Chibwe who initiated the deal. Chaima is the one who opened a bank account for me].”
In the letter, she has also put bank details which tally with the details appearing on the payslip.
The vice-chairperson Chibwe said she was aware that she was implicated in the matter but said she needed to inquire “about new development before she could comment.”
She promised to call back but she did not and could not pick up our calls.
Chaima, the treasurer, feigned ignorance over her being implicated in the scandal, saying: “I can’t say anything because I don’t know anything.”
The main Civo executive committee chairperson Moffat Chitimbe said he needed more time to respond as to how far they have gone with the issue after the investigations report.
“I wasn’t around so I need time to follow up. I will call you back but that will not be today or tomorrow,” he said on Thursday.