Despite government suspending indefinitely the refurbishment of the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC), civil rights activists have maintained their stand to have Chief Secretary to Government Lloyd Muhara dismissed subject to investigations.
A statement issued on Wednesday and signed by government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi did not give reasons for the suspension but only said the K64 million contract was for the refurbishment of the OPC complex, including the office of the President.
The decision to indefinitely suspend the renovations comes barely days after civil society organisations (CSOs) asked Muhara to step down over what they referred to as abuse of office.
The CSOs, led by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep), called for an immediate decisive action as the allegations reflect negatively on the presidency, pointing out that it is happening under the President’s watch.
Reacting to the development, human rights defender Billy Mayaya said the whole procurement process and document needs to be subjected to scrutiny by the general public and external evaluators.
He said: “Our demand still stands; we want to understand how the whole process went. The Anti-Corruption Bureau [ACB] should come in to probe the Chief Secretary.”
CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo, whose organisation also faulted government for the extravagance, said on Wednesday that people have the right to know why government has suspended the office refurbishments indefinitely.
Mtambo added that the issue is of national interest as Muhara is a public official and therefore, government needs to be clear to avoid being seen as shielding someone.
The statement by Dausi states that the decision was to refurbish the OPC complex building with funding from Treasury by replacing old carpets, ceiling boards, painting walls, and installing CCTV cameras as the complex has not been refurbished since 1975.
However, during former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s era, the offices were refurbished in 2004 to 2006.