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Paul Mphwiyo is Cashgate mastermind— Leonard Kalonga

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The convicted former assistant director responsible for planning and development in the then Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Leonard Kalonga, on Monday started narrating how former budget director Paul Mphwiyo allegedly coordinated the siphoning of public funds in 2013.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale introduced the case as the most despicable loss of trust ever imaginable and described Mphwiyo as a mastermind or axial of public resources plunder of 2013.

Kalonga, who is the first prosecution witness in a case in which Mphwiyo and 18 others are answering K2.4 billion Cashgate-related case, told the High Court in Lilongwe that it is Mphwiyo who introduced him to the Cashgate scheme.

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He said a Mr. Makina, who was working in the Accountant General’s office and he knew as a customer for his used car business, initially introduced Mphwiyo as a top official and it was at their first meeting held at Total Filling Station in Lilongwe’s Area 30 that Kalonga realised the top official was Mphwiyo.

According to Kalonga, when they met at the filling station, he narrated his desire to get better in terms of promotion and being sent to a diplomatic mission as Mr Makina who had been posted to Malawi’s mission office in Harare, Zimbabwe.

When the then deputy director of budget Mphwiyo asked Kalonga about his position in government, Mphwiyo is said to have told Kalonga that it would be difficult for him to help as Mphwiyo thought Kalonga was working in the Accountant General’s office.

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However, Kalonga said Mphwiyo told him that most ministries and departments in government were active in raising funds for the then ruling People’s Party (PP) for its 2014 elections campaign and if Kalonga wanted to do better in life, he should be involved in the scheme.

Kalonga said he told Mphwiyo at that meeting, which took place on a Saturday in the early days of April 2013, that he had to go and brief some people who matter in the accounts department of the Ministry of Tourism in which the then chief accountant George Banda was identified.

In their next meeting which took place at the same Area 30 Total Filling Station on a Monday, Mphwiyo, Kalonga and Banda agreed to execute the scheme which involved the ministries and department asking for extra funding from Treasury under the pretext of funding projects within the ministry.

“He [Mphwiyo] mentioned that as someone who is in Treasury as deputy director, he was influential in funding government ministries that asked for extra funding. He said you can ask for extra funding, let’s say K80 million and using his position he would approve that funding and once that money goes into the ministry, the money will be used for political party.

“But he told us that since it is the money that is given to the ministry outside the budget, those people involved will be given some kind of rewards in form of promotions, postings to diplomatic missions as well as cash rewards,” Kalonga narrated.

He said after being convinced with the scheme, him and Banda talked to other two people in the accounts department Michael Mphatso and Samuel Mzanda who helped in writing of the worksheet for the scheme.

Kalonga said Mphwiyo told them to identify suppliers whose accounts would be used in the process of siphoning money from the government financial system with an assurance that any companies could be included as Mphwiyo was even connected to people responsible for vendor list.

According to Kalonga, in the same month of April 2013 he managed to contact three construction companies and continued to do so in the subsequent months with Mphwiyo also referring some companies to him.

The case continues today in which Kalonga will continue his narration and according to Director of Public Prosecutions Mary Kachale that may take the whole day or beyond.

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