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ACB to probe K4 billion payout

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has finally opened a file on Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Local Government Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, as pressure piles on President Peter Mutharika to take action on the alleged “bribing of MPs”.

ACB Director, Reyneck Matemba, told The Daily Times that the graft-busting body has opened a file following several complaints it has been receiving concerning the K4 billion payout to lawmakers without Parliament’s approval.

“We have opened a file in the matter but we wanted to wait and see what the meeting between the interested CSOs and the Minister of Finance would produce. We also wanted to see what the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (Pac) would do on the matter because we did not want to duplicate efforts,” he said.

Matemba said the ACB took note of what transpired during the meeting and would soon launch official investigations into the matter probably next week but it continues to receive information regarding the alleged corruption.

“The bureau gets information in many ways. We can see something in the newspaper, on TV or hear it on radio and act,” Matemba added.

While rights groups and the public at large are pushing for action from authorities, Pac sounded relaxed when asked yesterday about their next course of action.

Pac Chairperson, Alekeni Menyani, said the committee already asked the ACB to investigate the source of the money.

He did not give any hint that they would summon the two ministers to appear before the committee.

Our sister newspaper Malawi News uncovered the government’s plot to share K4 billion among 86 Members of Parliament (MPs), most of whom helped the government to reject the electoral reforms bills.

Opposition MPs pressured the government until the House agreed that the money be shared equally among all the 193 MPs in Parliament, a development described by many observers as wrong.

Gondwe has struggled to explain the source of the money when budgets for other key ministries and departments were slashed down during the mid-year budget review partly due to poor performance of the country’s tax collector Malawi Revenue Authority.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have since called for nationwide demonstrations on April 27 to be conducted in all the four cities of Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu as one way of forcing Mutharika to fire the two ministers and ACB to investigate them.

The CSOs led by an umbrella of rights organisations, Human Rights Defenders Forum, are calling for complete cancellation of the K4 billion payout, calling it illegal and not in the best interest of Malawians.

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