Three people, including Auditor General Stevenson Kamphasa and retired Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Duncan Tambala, have been appointed into a three-member team to probe allegations of financial abuse at Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
Rex Harawa, managing partner for AMG Global—certified public accountants and auditors, completes the team set up to investigate alleged misuse of K15 million at the electoral body between July 2012 and December 2014.
In an interview yesterday, Kamphasa confirmed the appointment of the team, but could not indicate when they are expected to start work.
He said: “Yes, there are three of us. But, of course, we are not expected to start any time soon. We are investigators who will investigate the allegations whether money was indeed stolen or not.”
In May this year, delegates to the Malawi Electora Steering Committee meeting comprising government officials and development partners passed a resolution to send on forced leave MEC senior managers, including chief elections officer Willie Kalonga.Cycle Support (Mecs) Project
During the meeting, Britain dismissed outright MEC’s explanation on how funds amounting to K15 422 756 were spent between July 2012 and December 2014 and told the electoral body point blank that it suspected the money was stolen.
The meeting had recommended that a three-member team comprising representatives of the Malawi Law Society (MLS), Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) and audit and business advisory firm Deloitte undertake the probe into MEC financial dealings.
However, Kalonga and team are yet to go on the recommended leave as MEC chairperson Maxon Mbendera last week said they would go at the right time.
He said: “There are people who are supposed to come and verify the audits, as of now they have not yet come and think about it, if we had sent them in May, June, July and this is August, would we have an organisation? We will do that.”
According to Mbendera, who is a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, MEC was in its final stage of implementing the recommendations from the meeting.
He said when the panelists are ready to come the staff involved will be sent on leave.
On May 18 2016, The Nation reported that during the Mecs meeting on January 19 this year, development partners, notably Britain, United States of America (USA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), rejected MEC’s explanation on expenditure and suspected fraud as well as nepotism at the institution.
Over the years, MEC has been embroiled in scandals bordering on financial management and accountability.
In December 2010, former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika suspended MEC for failing to account for K1.4 billion. The suspension followed an audit report that showed that the funds disappeared from MEC without supporting documents.
However, a forensic audit report on the transactions of MEC presented to the President in April 2011 showed that money did not miss from the coffers of the electoral body. The report established that the money was spent and accounted for.
The report also showed that about K467 million was unaccounted for, contrary to K1.4 billion as claimed by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
In June 2011, it was revealed that the president’s decision to close MEC and subsequently cancel long-awaited Local Government Elections resulted in over K1 billion public and donor money going down the drain.
Come August 2012, traditional donors of MEC demanded a fresh audit of the institutions before they could resume pumping money into preparations for the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.