Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament plans to investigate a K500 million interest claim at the centre of controversy between Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the National Audit Office (NAO).
The probe follows revelations by our sister newspaper, the Weekend Nation that MPS and the Auditor General have been changing positions on the authenticity of the payment demand by Pioneer Investment.
In an interview on Christmas Day, PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said circumstances of the case point to possible fraud; hence, his committee will summon all the players involved to investigate the matter.
He said: “PAC will have to probe Pioneer Investment and, of course, we also urge caution on government in terms of which middlemen can be engaged in security deals.
“It actually is a scam and points at the weak legal advice that MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] are being offered by the Attorney General before going into deals. It is also an indication of continued Cashgate [plunder of resources at Capital Hill] in government.
“The Minister of Finance is at fault here. We intend to do the same soon after vacation. They will have to be accountable for their statement.”
Menyani also appealed to the graft-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), to launch a separate criminal investigation on the matter.
He said: “We also urge ACB to jump on the back of Pioneer Investment as a matter of urgency and investigate.”
The Weekend Nation reported about fears of a possible scam after Treasury stopped a K500 million payment to Pioneer Investment, a food rations supplier to MPS initially authorised by the Auditor General, Attorney General and police.
Pioneer Investment insists there was no wrongdoing, but Auditor General Stephenson Kamphasa said his previous approval was erroneously done after the company provided misleading information to his office.
However, controversy has further been highlighted by contradictory statements by police which through Deputy Inspector General Duncan Mwapasa disowned the claim.
But in communication through letters, the Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama advised government to honour the payment.
When contacted, Kachama refused to comment, saying he does not recall the letters despite Weekend Nation seeing his signatures appended to the letters.
He said: “My office signs a lot of documents and I don’t recall this particular letter. I don’t know this issue.”
Initially, police claimed the demand for interest payment was dubious, but in a fresh twist have rendered support towards claims by Pioneer Investment company demanding the payment.
According to the contract agreement, the price of the contract was pegged at K2.3 billion and was for delivery of 500 000 units of food rations within 20 weeks.
The contract, which was for supply of conned beef, energy biscuits, energy juice and tinned fish, has no specific interest clause.
The Auditor General’s memo said the office verified the contract agreements, invoices, payment vouchers, delivery notes and supporting documents, inspected delivered goods and interviewed MPS officers.