Five months after the expiry of the tenure of the substantive office holder, government faces a race against time to recruit a new Auditor General (AG) to comply with the Constitution that the office should not be vacant for over six months.
Following the expiry of AG Stephenson Kamphasa’s contract in June this year, President Peter Mutharika on June 18 appointed Harold Mwala as his replacement. However, the appointment sparked protests from several quarters, including donors and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) who queried the rationale behind ignoring the amended Public Audit Act in the recruitment.
With the Public Audit (Amendment) Act operational from September, Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo yesterday said Kamphasa’s replacement would be appointed by Decemeber.
He said: “We are in the process of the recruitment. Probably by next week we will be conducting the interviews, so that by December, we will have the new Auditor General.”
The amended Act makes it mandatory for government to advertise the position in the Malawi Government Gazette and in at least two widely circulating newspapers. The law also provides that an independent body interviews the shortlisted candidates to recommend the best candidates—a minimum of two and a maximum of three—to the President for nomination within 14 days.
Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development advertised the position in The Nation of October 19 2018.
Botolo said candidates have already been short-listed for interviews for the post.
The AG is key in implementing systematic audits of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and offering guidance on how to better protect public resources in the process.
Reacting to the development, Icam chief executive officer Francis Chinjoka Gondwe urged government to expedite the recruitment process to avoid breaching the law.
Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee chairperson Lingson Belekanyama said they are waiting for Treasury to give them the names of the short-listed candidates.
Mwala was appointed using the old Section 5 of the Public Audit Act as read with Section 183 (3) of the Constitution which gave appointing powers to the President and confirmation by a committee of the whole National Assembly.
But Section 5(a) of the new law gazetted on May 11 2018 after the President signed it into law on May 8 provides for a transparent procedure in the appointment of the AG which includes advertising in two widely circulating newspapers and instituting a panel to shortlist candidates and conduct interviews.