Treasury has demanded immediate suspension and prosecution of key officers at Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) for ill-advising the board of directors to divert about K3 billion ($4.2 million) to buy maize for Admarc in February this year.
In a letter dated May 19 2016 addressed to Mera board chairperson Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe, Secretary to the Treasury (ST) Ronald Mangani has demanded that the money from the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) used to buy maize be refunded.
Reads Mangani’s communication to the Mera board chairperson: recommend as follows: “Based on the foregoing, I recommend as follows: . The Mera Board should suspend, with immediate effect, all key officers whose responsibility it was to: [a]. Advise the board accordingly, and/or [b]. Ensure that proper government procedures would be followed in this transaction;
“. The Mera board should request the Director of Public Prosecutions [DPP] to persecute all the key officers specified under  above, and/or apply any other disciplinary measures as it may deem appropriate.”
In the letter whose copy The Nation has seen, Mangani also asked the Mera board to recover the money in the transaction within three months from the date of his letter and report accordingly.
Mangani said the Public Finance Management Act provides that resources of statutory bodies may be applied only for the purposes specified in its empowering Act.
To this effect, he observed that the Energy Regulation Act and the Public Finance Management Act do not empower Mera to purchase maize; hence, its resources could not be used for that purpose.
Further reads Mangani’s letter: “The executive management of Mera erred in referring to the Mera Board a matter that was outside the board’s competence and mandate to handle. It is the responsibility of management to guide the board on procedures.
“Moreover, the board’s approval for the transaction was clearly conditional upon adherence to the necessary procedures by Mera’s executive management.
“In particular, the chairperson of the Mera Board endorsed on the CEO [chief executive officer] letter to him dated 22nd February: ‘This has the board’s approval, make sure you follow all the necessary procedures, as already indicated, proper procurement procedures were not followed in this procedures’.”’
In March this year, our sister newspaper, the Weekend Nation revealed that Mera diverted K3 billion from the PSF for State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to buy maize.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe described the decision as illegal.
Mangani’s letter has been copied to Chief Secretary to the Government, Attorney General, Solicitor General, Principal Secretary for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining and the DPP.
In an interview yesterday, Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya said he was not aware of the ST’s communication to the Mera Board and wondered where The Nation obtained the letter.
Bvumbwe said he was travelling; hence, could not take questions whereas his deputy Felisa Kilembe referred the matter to Mera spokesperson Fitina Khonje.
Mera deputy spokesperson Patrick Maulidi, to whom Khonje further referred the matter, said he needed more time to analyse issues as he was new at the institution.