Ministers Mkwezalamba and Assad booed at PAC Conference over Cashgate scam
BLANTYRE (MaraPost)–Tempers flared at the third all-inclusive stakeholders conference organised by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) following government’s failure to provide delegates with “convincing answers” relating to cash gate scandal and forensic audit report.
Government was on Tuesday represented by Minister of Finance Dr. Maxwell Mkwezalamba and Justice and Constitutional Affairs Fahad Assani and delegates seized the opportunity to demand explanations regarding the forensic audit report amid failure to comes to with it.
It was evidently clear, right from onset, delegates, just like many Malawians, were not happy in the manner government handled the cash gate issue.
Among others, delegates demanded why government has not arrested former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo, or not impounded the property if businessman, Osward Lutepo; why law enforcers have not impounded 22 vehicles Lutepo donated to ruling People’s Party and when cash gate cases will be concluded?
Others asked the two ministers to explain why the forensic audit report left out names of looters and companies that siphoned public resources; why the money realised from sale of the presidential jet was not deposited in the Consolidated account/Government’s Account No. One as per the Constitution?
Temper fared following government’s claims that there is no evidence that Lutepo, one of the suspects in the cashgate scam, donated 22 vehicles to ruling People’s Party (PP).
The vehicles are believed to have been purchased with money looted at Capital Hill, but Justice Minister told delegates at an all-inclusive stakeholders conference underway in Blantyre that there is no evidence to substantiate such claims.
But this did not go down well with the delegates with one, for instance, calling Finance Minister a “novice”. Several others expressed their hunger by booing, jeering and shouting at the two Ministers.
“Honourable, your are not patriotic enough. In fact am getting angry with you! Your government plunder public resources at the expense of ordinary Malawians. People are dying in hospitals because of you,” said one of the delegates on top of his voice.
In response, Justice Minister Fahad Assani said investigations into the looting of public resources are still underway and more arrests will be made.
“Those with evidence or information that indeed Mr Lutepo donated the said vehicles to PP should come forward with such information. At the moment there is no evidence,” said Assani.
He also claimed that the Budget Director Paul Mpwhiyo will likely be arrested when investigations are over, but couldn’t tell why is being protected by the government.
On his part, Finance Minister told delegates that comprehensive forensic audit containing names of looters and companies that siphoned public resources will be out in the next few months..
According to Mkwezalamba, the money realised from the sale of the presidential jet was used to support UN peacekeeping operations, but couldn’t explain why the money was not deposit in Government’s Account No. One as per the Constitution.
He also took trouble to clear the mist on maize being distributed by the Malawi leader. The minister claimed that the maize being distributed by President Joyce Banda to what she calls hunger stricken families was not donated to Government, was rather donated to her and ruling People’s Party and is being repacked in 20kg bags by Farmers World in Lilongwe.
Mkwezalamba also told the delegates that Parliament will be convened in April, the Constitution allows them to recall Parliament even after its dissolution on March 20.
However, most delegates failed to subscribe to their responses and went ahead to condemn and accuse them of protecting their “master”, whom they said was the architect and beneficiary of the Capital Hill cashgate.
Others also slated Group Chief Executive Officer of Press Corporations, Professor Matthews Chikaonda for speaking in defence of the President.
Outspoken John Kapito, Executive Director of Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) said Malawians don’t want the forensic audit report but rather an apology from the President for presiding over and allowing her close associates to loot and plunder public resources at Capital Hill under the watchful eye of the ruling party.
The conference concludes today, Wednesday, February 26 2014 and this is the third conference in a series from the two which were held in March and October 2012 under the themes ‘Time to Reclaim Our Destiny’ and ‘Time to Restore Democratic and Economic Governance’, respectively.
This time around the theme is ‘Malawi at Crossroads: Enhancing Transformative Leadership through Holding Leaders and Ourselves Accountable’.