Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) has asked government to reverse the appointment of Admarc director of finance Harold Mwala as the new Auditor General allegedly because he does not qualify to fill the position.
In a communication to its members which The Nation has seen, Icam president Henry Chowawa said the professional accountants’ body sought an audience with Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara where it raised a number of concerns, including the appointee’s fitness.
But in an interview last evening, Mwala said he is fit for the job a member of the Malawi Accountants Board (MAB).
In June this year, President Peter Mutharika appointed Mwala as a replacement for Stephenson Kamphasa whose contract expired on June 11 this year. Mwala’s appointment was received with reservations from some quarters, including the country’s development partners who have been instrumental in revamping the National Audit Office to improve public finance management.
In the communication, Icam noted that Mwala’s appointment process lacked transparency and that he did not meet some of the basic requirements for the role of Auditor General as outlined in the Public Audit Act.
Icam said some of the qualifications for the holder of the office of Auditor General, as stipulated in the Public Audit Act, are that the person must have “significant audit experience” and should be in possession of a valid practising licence issued by MAB.
Reads the communication in part: “Icam’s expectation was that any appointee for the position should be a registered and active member of Icam and the Malawi Accountants Board; and that Icam’s records showed that the appointee [Mwala] had neither such significant audit experience nor a valid practising licence and was not a registered and active member of Icam and the Malawi Accountants Board.”
Chowawa said Icam also referred the Chief Secretary to the yet to be effected Public Audit (Amendment) Act 2016 which calls for, among other things, public requests for applications through advertisements in the print and other media.
“In light of the above, Icam recommended, through the office of the Chief Secretary, that the appointing authority reconsiders the appointment of Harold Mwala,” reads the communication.
Chowawa further informed Icam members that government committed to upholding the rule of law and stated that he would take the matters raised by the institute with the appointing authority to ensure that the right candidate was appointed.
“It is pleasing to note that the government put on hold confirmation of the appointment of the new Auditor General by the National Assembly which rose on June 29 2018,” added the communication.
But in a telephone interview, Mwala said he was a member of MAB with six years audit experience.
He told The Nation: “I am a registered member of Malawi Accountants Board and I have a certificate. I have worked for National Audit Office for four years and at Wood Industries Corporation for two years. In total, that’s six years experience. What is the definition of significant experience?”
Mwala also said he has in-depth knowledge of government accounting system as his dissertation for his masters in accounting titled Impact of the Public Sector Accounting System Reforms in Malawi Central Government on the Qualitative Characteristics of Financial Statement was on the same.
Muhara signed Mwala’s appointment letter as Auditor General with effect from June 18 2018 subject to parliamentary confirmation.
But donors also expressed concern over flouted appointment procedures.
In an earlier interview, Mwala told The Nation he is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, holds a master of business administration from Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (Esami), a master’s degree in accountancy from the University of Glamorgan in the United Kingdom and a diploma in accountancy issued by the then Public Accountants Examination Council in Malawi in 1991.
Last evening, Mwala also shared copies of his certificates which, among others, shows that he was admitted as MAB member in 1999.