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Attorney General stops Mec vehicles’ sale

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The office of the Attorney General (AG) on Friday moved in at the eleventh hour to stop the Sheriff of Malawi from selling six vehicles that they impounded from the embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) in March this year.

This is the second time in a space of 30-days that the vehicles in question have been stopped from going into the hands of would-be successful bidders as Mec management also stopped another scheduled auction last month through a stay order.

Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said just before privately-owned Trustee Auctioneers and Estate Agency started the auctioning process, there was communication from AG Kalekeni Kaphale asking them to take out the electoral body’s vehicles from list of items on sale.

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The vehicles which include two Nissan Patrols, a Nissan Caravan Minibus and three Nissan UD vans that United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) donated were put back on auction after three debtors successfully moved the court to vacate stay order that the electoral body obtained.

Confirming the development yesterday, Kaphale said he had earlier spoken with the Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani on the matter and they have arranged to meet any day this week and make arrangements on the settlement of the debt over which the execution took place.

The electoral body has failed to pay three companies namely Universal Trading Company, Platinum Solutions and Transworld Radio about K90 million for the services rendered.

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“I am supposed to engage him [Mangani] and the Sheriff of Malawi on a roundtable meeting to see how to settle the debt.

“It is a question of money and there is nothing else. So, I am sure we should be able to talk around the settlement of the debt and save the vehicles from the sale because usually, you know, these things are undervalued in a public auction scenario. They always go below the market value. So, we would rather save the public assets and settle the debts,” Kaphale said.

His intervention comes at a time Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has cast doubt of bailing out the electoral body anytime soon.

Gondwe told The Daily Times that the ministry will only move to intervene in the settling of Mec’s accumulated debts after thorough investigations on the alleged financial mismanagement at the commission.

Just a day after saying that, a meeting of Malawi Electoral Cycle Support (Mecs) Project Steering Committee which Gondwe was part of resolved to send all senior managers at Mec including Chief Elections Officer Willie Kalonga on forced leave to pave way for investigations into allegations of financial abuse.

In that meeting, a three member team of the Malawi Law Society, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi and audit and advisory firm Delloite was appointed to undertake the probe.

Mec sought the intervention of the treasury for a bailout package due to several outstanding debts with several suppliers mostly emanating from 2014 tripartite.

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