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Government loses lake dispute papers

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has lost documents pertaining to the ongoing Lake Malawi dispute between Malawi and Tanzania, a senior government official has told Parliament.

The ministry’s Principal Secretary, Isaac Munlo, yesterday attributed this to a chaotic filing system of documents and lack of systems of data keeping.

“We haven’t found the records for the [Lake Malawi] dispute. I insisted we should find them but my staff only found photocopies,” Munlo told a packed room of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (Pac).

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Munlo said this after Pac members pressed him to explain the whereabouts of some documents related to K28 million expenditure when there were no delivery notes.

Munlo said the ministry has since engaged the Department of Antiquities to help it modernise the filing system of documents, including those from the Accounts Department.

The revelation about the missing lake dispute documents shocked most of the Members of Parliament (MPs) sitting on Pac. Lilongwe South MP Peter Dimba expressed concern over the chaotic and irregular filing system at the ministry, describing the ministry as the most important, biggest and largest in terms of importance.

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“I am perturbed to hear this,” Dimba said.

Malawi and Tanzania have been on a protracted wrangle over part of the lake which Tanzania claims belongs to it. A mediation team of former presidents was instituted to resolve the issue. So far, there appears to be little progress on the matter.

On the K28million missing documents, Auditor General Stevenson Kamphasa said the ministry managed to retrieve documents related to K9 million worth of purchases only.

Pac Chairman Alekeni Menyani also told the members that there was an irregular payment of K1.9 million to a company that provided flowers to the ministry.

He said the ministry engaged the company without following proper laid-down procurement procedures.

However, Munlo explained that the company was engaged following proper procedures and that payments were made according to the quantity of the flowers.

However, he failed to give documents related to the matter, saying the documents went missing. The legislators were also told that a payment of K313 million was charged to a wrong account and code.

In response, Munlo said there was nothing fishy on this, saying the accounts which were supposed to be debited had no money and the ministry had to use accounts which had money.

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