Treasury has asked Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to take appropriate disciplinary measures in dealing with officials involved in violation of the Public Finance Management Act at the electoral body.
Treasury’s position comes against the background of a special investigative audit of MEC that found that there was gross financial mismanagement and flouting of procurement and recruitment procedures under the leadership of chief elections officer Willie Kalonga between July 2012 and December 2014.
In a letter to MEC chairperson Maxon Mbendera dated September 28 2015, Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani observed that findings of the audit exposed worrisome violations of relevant laws.
He said in the letter whose copy The Nation has seen: “My office has carefully considered the findings of the audit and has concluded that they depict worrisome violations of the Public Finance Management Act [PFMA] 2003.
“Further to reporting this matter to the commission as an appointing authority, I advise the commission to act as it deems fit.”
But MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafuliwa said the commission will not take any action against an incomplete audit report because it may end up victimising innocent people who might be exonerated by the final report.
He said: “For example, there are issues being raised in the report of people who [allegedly] pocketed allowances and never undertook the trips. This is arising because the passports were never considered during the audit process. Should MEC ask the people to refund the allowances when we are in full custody that they travelled?
“Let it be known that the commission is eager to have this audit concluded in a credible manner. We strongly feel that the negative issues that have been thrown into public realm as public truth will be withdrawn.
“MEC will not go to the public and defend material detail, but will wait for the final audit report to exonerate us. Should the final audit report substantiate irregularities, the commission is committed to taking an appropriate action.”
In a summary of the findings on the alleged financial mismanagement at MEC, it is reported that the commission’s management, among others, authorised bank transfers worth K118 667 404. 44 ($208 188) to unknown bank accounts, invested K398 040 000 ($698 316) without commissioners’ written approval and paid out external travel allowances to commissioners and senior officers amounting to K15 422 756 ($27057) for a trip allegedly not undertaken.
Mid last month, MEC sent on forced leave its director of finance KhumboPhiri in the wake of an investigative audit that revealed gross financial mismanagement between July 2012 and December 2014 as exposed by our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation.
The audit was conducted by the Central Internal Audit Unit under the Ministry if Finance following allegations of financial misconduct and fraud in the procurement and recruitment procedures by the institution’s management.