‘Cashgate’ at Malawi embassy
Malawi government has suspended and recalled two officials from its embassy in Addis Ababa after suspecting that they connived to swindle US$30,000 (about K20 million) in public funds.
Foreign Affairs Minister, George Chaponda, confirmed the development in an interview yesterday after returning from Addis Ababa where he had chaired the ministerial panel of the election of members of the African Union (AU) Commission to be held in July this year.
The suspended officials are First Secretary responsible for administration, Fletcher Chowe, and Deputy Ambassador, Doreen Kapanga, according to officials in the ministry.
Chowe allegedly wrote a cheque of US$30,000 in his name and the cheque was signed by Kapanga.
Chaponda said he discovered the malpractice after visiting the embassy and immediately suspended and recalled the two officials.
“I spent three hours in our embassy in Addis Ababa and I found that two of our diplomats were involved in fraudulent activities, misappropriation of funds. They wrote a cheque without any supporting documents typical of the Cashgate affair.
“And knowing that our President does not tolerate any of these things and knowing that I am the minister responsible for the embassy, I immediately ordered that these two should be suspended, recalled and criminal investigations against them should commence,” said Chaponda.
He said he had also directed that an audit should be conducted as he feared that the K20 million ‘Cashgate’ could just be a tip of the iceberg.
“We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to clearing the mess in our embassies. We will do everything possible to ensure funds are not misappropriated because this country has a lot of problems which need money,” said Chaponda.
Towards the end of last month, Chaponda announced a number of strategies to buttress the relevance of embassies and curb excessive expenditures including the downsizing and rationalising personnel both for diplomats and local staff in Malawi missions abroad.
The process, which is part of the Public Sector Reforms Programme, also saw government reducing the number of diplomats from the established positions of 234 to 152 and for local staff from 217 to 184.
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