Opposition legislators in Parliament on Monday called for the resignation of Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, citing “failure to execute his duties”.
The members of Parliament (MPs) said the minister has failed his duties by spending about K4 billion without Parliament’s authority on about 86 constituencies belonging to government lawmakers and other sympathisers of the ruling Democrartic Progressive Party (DPP).
On Saturday, local media reported that government had allocated K3.4 billion to 86 MPs who voted against the Electoral Reforms Bills in December, translating to K40 million per beneficiary constituency.
Addressing the press immediately after the House adjourned on Monday afternoon, the MPs said what the minister did was strange and in breach of the Republican Constitution.
Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson, who is also Dedza North West MP, Alekeni Menyani (Malawi Congress Party-MCP), said there is need for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate the matter as some laws have been broken.
“As a protector of people’s money, we are gravely concerned with the manner the minister is handling public funds. We all know that public funds have guidelines on how they must be used. We were in the process of debating the ministers statement, we had not gone into the committee of supply yet the minister indicated that they have gotten the money elsewhere. Elsewhere means outside the budget, and went through the Ministry of Local Government without telling the secretariat what they have done,” he said.
Menyani further said Section 173 (3) of the Constitution says no money shall be withdrawn except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly; hence, it is illegal for the Finance Minister to spend without the House’s approval.
He said: “It is an illegal expenditure, no money can be spent from the Consolidated Fund without the approval of the House. We don’t know what kind of power he has presented himself with. If he continues like that, it means we have given him too much freedom and it protracts badly on the President of the country. We cannot allow a single person to flout the law. The President should do something on this.”
Nkhata Bay North West MP Comodius Nyirenda (Independent) said government wanted to use the money secretly had it not been that the media exposed it.
“The government MPs were not prepared to bring this to light. They wanted this to be done secretly. It is the same list of people who voted against Electoral Reforms Bills and independence of ACB Bill who are on that list. This story is bordering on corruption. This is not their money. ACB should investigate this,” he said.
In response, Gondwe argued the MPs should regard this as the first phase in developing rural areas, saying the remaining MPs will get their share in the next budget session.
Gondwe said the President advised him to concentrate on rural development; hence, he involved Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa to help identify the constituencies where the money was supposed to go first.
“The government of APM emphasised that we should concentrate on rural development. In that case, I discussed with the Minister of Local Government, and he said he was going to discuss with MPs one by one. When the money reached K4 billion, we decided to close the list, and in May, we can find another amount that will be given to other members that did not have development in their areas,” he said.
Gondwe said there is no need for people to think the money was only given to DPP legislators as some opposition MPs also benefitted from the fund.