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Government sent K4 billion into Mec CEO account

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By Jameson Chauluka:

Sam Alfandika

Treasury deposited K4 billion into a bank account named the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) at Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) on the eve of the May 21 Tripartite Elections, The Daily Times has established.

Mec CEO Sam Alfandika Sunday maintained that the account, held at FDH Bank, is not personal although it is named after his post.

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“The account has always been there and all the funding we have been getting has been coming through the account,” he said.

Treasury made the payment through Reserve Bank of Malawi cheque number 127883 dated May 20 2019.

Commenting on the timing of the payment, Alfandika said a day before the elections, Mec had many people to pay including field staff.

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“Even now, a month after the elections, that account continues getting billions because are still making payments to people who rendered their services to the commission during the elections,” he said.

Alfandika refused to entertain further questions when called again to clarify if Mec has other bank accounts in the name of the organisation since Mec has a finance department.

There are questions as to why an account of an institution is named after the designation of one of its officers.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general, Eisenhower Mkaka, said it does not add up for an institutional account of an important organisation such as Mec to be named as CEO.

“Most probably, the Chief Elections Officer himself Mr Sam Alfandika is the sole signatory to the account. We had a similar issue in 2014 with the then CEO Willie Kalonga and we told them, as stakeholders, that we didn’t like it,” he said.

Mkaka described the revelations that Treasury paid the account K4 billion on the eve of the elections as worrisome, asking Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate the matter.

“You can’t dismiss this revelation like that looking at the timing of the payment. I don’t think that the Treasury uses cheques when funding institutions like these. Besides, why were the funds coming from the Southern Region cashier when, normally, institutions like Mec are funded from the Central Treasury cashier and not a regional office,” he said.

Mkaka said this is one of the reasons MCP wanted to access bank accounts of some Mec members of staff.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, Sunday said Mec should explain the rationale behind such a transaction on the eve of the elections, even more involving an account named after a position.

“This is shocking but not surprising knowing the people we are dealing with. That is irregular considering that this was a critical date. There is no way someone can justify the release of that amount a day before the elections. Mec has to explain this. You cannot have an account in the name of a position. Are they telling us that Mec does not have a main account? It is unacceptable, shocking and we feel vindicated. They must give us an explaination by close of business tomorrow [today]; otherwise, we will add this issue to the agenda of the demonstrations,” Mtambo said.

UTM spokesperson, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, refused to comment on the matter, saying they were waiting to be advised by their lawyers after the Constitutional Court, sitting in Lilongwe, on Thursday refused to entertain the party’s wish to access the bank accounts.

Secretary to Treasury, Cliff Chiunda, Sunday said there was no way they could send money to anybody’s personal account, saying they only fund institutions.

He did not pick further calls meant to clarify to him that The Daily Times question was specifically not about a personal account but an account named CEO at Mec.

ACB Director, Reyneck Matemba, Sunday said he was not aware of the development but said he would follow it up with the Secretary to Treasury.

UTM leader Saulos Chilima and his MCP counterpart Lazarus Chakwera have petitioned the High Court seeking nullification of presidential election results.

However, the Constitutional Court, sitting in Lilongwe, on Thursday ruled that Mec should provide Chakwera with records of the elections and disclose the list of all 147 electoral complaints which Mec Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, said they had received.

The five-member panel of judges also accepted Chakwera’s application to amend the petition which MCP filed.

However, the court denied MCP permission to have access to bank accounts of data entry clerks.

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