Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa has pleaded for patience from Malawians demanding to know names of individuals and companies involved in the plunder of K13.6 billion (US$33 415 233) in public resources at Capital Hill, saying it may take three to four months to release the names.
Besides, Kamphasa and Attorney General Anthony Kamanga have separately stated that despite mounting pressure from the public to name Capital Hill Cashgate culprits in the forensic audit, such an audit report is not a public report and not meant for the public “under normal circumstances”.
Said Kamphasa on Wednesday evening: “The only reason that we made it [forensic audit report] public is for the sake of transparency and [this] signifies government’s commitment to fight corruption. It [the report] is just a tool we use for further investigation.”
He was reacting to questions raised by civil society organisations (CSOs) and private sector representatives at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) during a joint Common Approach to Budgetary Support (Cabs) and Malawi Government review meeting in Lilongwe.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira told the meeting that the forensic audit report is incomplete as it is devoid of names.
He said the private sector’s confidence in government is now very low due to many factors, including the handling of the audit report.
But Kamphasa said some of the transactions under Cashgate suspicion are crossborder; hence, requiring involvement of different jurisdictions and of them friendly enough to easily get information and some not so friendly.
Said Kamphasa: “We may say these are the names and tomorrow you may find that the names have changed, but also on the other hand, it may jeopardise the process of investigations underway. This kind of process is a long one and requires a lot of patience and I call upon everyone to be patient now.”
The Auditor General’s position was supported by Kamanga who justified the delay to name Cashgate perpetrators for fear of reprisals on the part of government.
Said Kamanga: “We are conscious of the fact that if we disclose and it turns out that we named wrong people, government will be sued and the Auditor General’s office doesn’t have money to pay and compensate people using taxpayers’ money. We certainly don’t want that to happen.”
He also said government is ‘extremely conscious’ of the matter and does not want to undermine ongoing investigations.
On his part, Minister of Finance Maxwell Mkwezalamba said British forensic auditors Baker Tilly have since submitted the narrative part of their report and are in the process of submitting case files to law-enforcement agencies through the National Audit Office (NAO).
He also said government has publicised the preliminary forensic audit report, including through submission to Parliament, and has developed an action plan which he said will be integrated in the government action plan for implementation.
Britain engaged Baker Tilly to conduct the forensic audit on behalf of Malawi Government to trace the source of plunder of public funds.
Cabs donors withheld their budget support after revelations of plunder of public resources at Capital Hill which were exposed following the shooting of then Minister of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo at the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 last year.