The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in an audit inquiry in Lilongwe on Thursday ordered the district commissioner Jack Nguluwe to unconditionally identify funds from within the districts coffers to settle the families and use the councilâ€™s initiatives to replace the money.
“The committee, in consultation with the Auditor General, has recommended that the controlling officer (DC) should identify funds immediately and without any condition from its coffers to settle the familiesâ€™ dues because they are suffering,” said PAC chairperson Beatrice Mwangonde.
According to the DC, some children were lucky to have been assisted by his office, but many dropped out of school.
“I will be wrong if I pretend that I am not aware of this problem because many children from these affected families are no longer going to school because of lack of support. As a council, we have tried to support a few of them with bursaries, but still there is a problem,” he said.
Nguluwe said the money was stolen by the councilâ€™s former deceasedâ€™s estate clerk Francis Makweya who used part of it for his wedding, but was arrested and convicted in 2009.
“What the auditors have observed is true. Over K7.3 million [about $44 000] for the deceasedâ€™s estate was misappropriated by our former deceasedâ€™s estate clerk. I learnt that he used part of the money to finance his wedding.
“This money was meant for about 80 families and they have been coming since 2005 to the councilâ€™s offices to ask for their money, but we could not do anything because the culprit is in prison. However, we have been discussing with the authorities to give us some money to settle the familiesâ€™ dues,” said Nguluwe.
A member of the committee, MP for Thyolo Thava Lifred Nawena, suggested that the budget allocation for Mulanje be trimmed by the said amount to be given directly to the victims and that the district council should reclaim the loss to cover themselves.
“Itâ€™s sad. Such a matter should not be handled softly because deceasedâ€™s estate funds have become a feeding basket for officials at council offices and a lot of widows and children are suffering.
“I would therefore suggest that the amount in question should be deducted from Mulanjeâ€™s budget allocation to be given directly to the concerned families and the council will reclaim the money to cover themselves, otherwise the families are suffering,” he said.
According to the Auditor Generalâ€™s report, huge sums of money had been overdrawn from nonexistent savings accounts and members of the committee demanded a further report on the matter or that the DC and his team should reconcile the figures correctly.