The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it has received a complaint about alleged abuse of office by First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka-Chilenje and Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya while the Parliamentary Services Commission (PSC) has summoned the two over the matter.
The moves follow an exposé by Weekend Nation last Saturday which revealed that the two were drawing from Parliament house rental allowances beyond their entitlement.
Last year, the two manipulated parliamentary administrative systems to claim an extra K300 000 ($573) a month each as they lived in their private houses while they projected a picture as if they were renting them from estate agents.
ACB deputy director Reineck Matemba confirmed that the bureau has received a complaint, but he declined to comment further for fear of jeopardising their investigations.
PSC spokesperson, Ralph Jooma, confirmed that the commission met and resolved to summon the two to explain the transactions.
“We are investigating the matter to ascertain the media claims on the two. We have already asked the Ministry of Lands and Housing, among others, to help verify the information for us, after which we can take action. Obviously, drawing house rental allowances when a public servant is living in their own house may not auger well with the commission; let alone the public,” Jooma said.
Parliament wrote the ministry on August 10 2015 to enquire on the status of property on plots number Bwaila 47/1/42 in Area 47 (which Mcheka-Chilenje claimed she was renting) and Alimaunde 49/1/921 in Area 49 (being rented by Chiwaya).
The inquiry confirmed that the two owned the properties on which each claimed K3.3 million ($6298) in rentals for the second half of 2014—K1.8 million ($3 435) more than each was entitled to.
Records at Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declarations also confirm that Mcheka-Chilenje and Chiwaya own the two properties.
In the records, Mcheka-Chilenje submitted that she built or purchased the house—valued at K45 million ($85 878)—in 2006 from profits from personal businesses while Chiwaya, who estimates his house at K20 million ($38 1680, financed it with a car loan he obtained from Parliament in 2014.
Chiwaya told supporters in his Mangochi Central Constituency early this week that he was entitled to K550 000 ($1 050) as per conditions of service, the evidence of which he provided.
However, according to the conditions of service for deputy speakers which we have seen, the purported K550 000 was to be the new allowances effective April 15 2015, but which are yet to be effected.
Weekend Nation’s story referred to his transactions in August 2014, when deputy speakers’ entitlement was K250 000 a month if they were residing in their own houses and K550 000 if they were living in rented houses, according to documents we have seen from the Treasury and Parliament.
Neither Chiwaya nor Mcheka Chilenje were available for comment yesterday despite our repeated attempts to get their side of the story in light of the developments.