The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wants the Malawi Embassy in Washington to explain how payment of K120 million was made to a US public relations firm.
Nation on Sunday last week reported that government cancelled a contract with Nelson Mullins, a US-based firm, to prop-up the image of Malawi and that of President Mutharika.
By the time the contract was cancelled, Malawi government had already paid the firm $150 000 (K120 million).
But in a written response, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Dalitso Kabambe, while saying the ministry was still investigating how the funds were channelled to the firm, the embassy will also be probed over the issue. “We are dealing with the matter and will respond to you as quickly as we can.
Also just to inform you that following the Addis Ababa theft, Washington is one of the embassies to be audited very soon by the National Audit Office covering three fiscal years 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16; hence if any improper payments were made by the embassy, those issues should come up in the audit report,” said Kabambe.
But Malawi’s Ambassador to the United States Edward Sawerengera dismissed fears of any wrong-doing. “Indeed, funds for contract for Nelson Mullins & Scarborough LLp amounting to $122 524.57 (about K90 million) sent by Accountant General were received by this mission on January 14 2016.
On January 20 2016, the embassy made a payment of $120 000.00 to Nelson Mullins & Scarborough LLp through wire transfer. From the total amount received, the embassy is still keeping $2 524.57.
“I should further state that no government official or intermediaries were paid and that the money was paid direct to the intended service provider, Nelson Mullins & Scarborough LLp for the consultancy service,” said Sawerengera.
Member of Parliament for Rumphi East, Kamlepo Kalua, who is also Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) vice-chairperson, has said parliamentarians are likely to address the issue of engaging the firm.
In an interview, Kalua, who has been at loggerheads with government over his whistleblowing on alleged corrupt practices in government, claimed he already submitted evidence to the Speaker of National Assembly on how the deal was used to siphon government funds.
“Corruption is getting worse. Even the President admits that it is now rampant and what we are going to do is to keep fighting this cancer. We will not shut up and we will not be cowed by threats,” he said.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale declined to comment on the contract government signed with the US public relations firm.