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Audit exposes financial abuse at Anglican Diocese

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By Deogratias Mmana:

The Anglican Diocese of the Upper Shire is embroiled in financial mismanagement as exposed by an audit that was carried out for the years 2014 to 2018.

The auditors, Graham Carr, said their whole report for the five years was a disclaimer as critical information was deliberately hidden from them.

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The audit was carried out on the request of some petitioners from the diocese who suspected abuse of funds in the diocese.

The petitioners formed an audit committee consisting of nine people which compiled its comments on the audit and sent them to various offices including the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa, Albert Chama, and all Anglican bishops in Malawi and other offices.

According to the audit committee’s report, donor funds amounting to K64 million were misappropriated.

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The report also says K77 million expenditure without third party documentation and the amounts of money in some circumstances do not tally with the items on which it was spent.

For example, in some cases, it shows a person paying K300,000 for a single meal.

There is also K19 million questionable over expenditure on salaries allegedly paid to ghost workers.

Further, information is missing on the transaction involving £50,000.00 Pounds (K50 million) which was set aside to buy houses in Zomba and or to buy shares and K15 million which was for the purchase of maize mills.

Also missing is K12 million donated by late president Bingu wa Mutharika.

According to the report, between 2014 and 2018 the diocese received K94 million out of which K64 million was not paid to beneficiaries.

The diocese also received donor funds amounting to K20 million for clergy stipend but no single priest received such stipend.

Further, the report says the diocese received K26 million seminarians but only K5 million was paid out.

The diocese only paid out K14 million out of K34 million meant for famine relief. There was an allocation of K1 million for a Bible seminar but nothing was paid out.

Further, K10 million was donated for a classroom block but K8 million was paid out.

Among other things, the summary claims that the now fired Bishop Brighton Malasa was responsible for some of the expenditures as he was the main signatory.

The report demands some officers to repay different amounts of funds that they received without supporting documents.

Last week, the Episcopal Bench of the Church of the Province of Central Africa invoked Canon 13 (1) for Malasa to resign before attaining the retirement age of 65.

When asked for his reaction to the findings of the audit which covered part of the period he was in-charge of the diocese, Malasa only said: “[A comment] from someone who is fired?”

Malasa referred us to his secretary Chris Zambira who said the Episcopal Bench made a resolution to set aside Malasa as a way of restoring unity and peace among the faithful in the diocese.

He said the Episcopal Bench did not make any reference to the outcome of the audit as a reason for setting Malasa aside.

He added that management generally accepted responsibility of shortfalls exposed in the audit and pledged to adhere to all recommendations made by the auditors.

He said the figures mentioned in the audit were not necessarily embezzled or misused but not properly accounted for.

Chairperson of the group that petitioned authorities to relieve Malasa of his duties, George Msakwiza, said the grouping felt exonerated.

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