Despite an audit analysis concluding that Capital Hill failed to reconcile K577 billion (about $886 million) in its cash books between 2009 and December 2014, former president Joyce Banda has distanced her administration from the loot.
Banda was Head of State between April 2012 and May 2014 after ascending to the presidency in line with constitutional order after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5 2012.
In a statement tackling several issues, Banda, who has been abroad since losing the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, said prior to Cashgate—the plunder of public funds under her watch between April and September 2013—the K577 billion theft happened between 2009 and 2012 when Bingu was in charge. She was an estranged Vice-President in Bingu’s administration.
Business advisory and audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) undertook an analysis of the Malawi Government’s cash book which was released in June this year. The report said payments on bank statements during the five-year period under review amounted to K1.85 trillion while value of cashbook entries during the same period stood at K1.27 trillion, resulting in a shortfall of K577.2 billion.
But Banda alleged that there must be a “stubborn link” between the K577 billion scam and Cashgate during a reign which she has described as the late Bingu’s since she just completed it from 2012 to 2014.
The former president said it is unfortunate that the President Peter Mutharika administration has deliberately ignored calls by donors to institute thorough and speedy investigations into the K577 billion scam.
“What I know is that until the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] administration complies with what the donors and Malawians want pertaining to these issues, the nation shall continue to swim in troubled economic waters because donors may simply look away,” said Banda.
PwC, which was hired by the German government to work with the National Audit Office (NAO) on the exercise, detailed all payments on the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) and matched bank statements against cashbook entries.
In 2013, the shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Banda ordered an audit which British forensic auditor, Baker Tilly, undertook for the period between April and September 2013 and established that about K24 billion was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
On his part, President Peter Mutharika is on record as having launched Public Finance Reforms to seal loopholes that led to Cashgate. n