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K2bn stolen at Health

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An audit report by the National Audit Office has revealed that civil servants and other unscrupulous Malawians defrauded government of K2.5 billion of donor money meant for HIV and Aids fight.

The report that we have seen indicates that a total of K2,520, 272, 421.62 was stolen between 2013 and 2015 through various dubious means.

“A total of K12,116,800.00 was issued through trans-positioning of designations with an intention to defraud; allowances amounting to K 61, 537,000.00 were given to non-deserving staff of the Ministry; a total of K73, 475,400.00 was given to individuals using unauthorized daily subsistence rates.

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“A total of K 265, 423, 140.00 was given to individuals who were not bona fide civil servants; a total of K399, 421, 090.00 was given to individuals whose names could not be traced; a total of K1,045, 068, 020.00 was issued to officers whose designation was not indicated,” reads the report.

It further reveals that officers drew fuel not in tandem with distances travelled adding that there was poor fuel management amounting to K277,114,171.62.

The report implicates directors of: finance, human resources and HIV in the ministry. Other professional and support staff are also named besides people who do not work in the ministry but are suspected to have connived with members of staff to siphon the money.

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Ministry Spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe, confirmed existence of the report but was reluctant to shed more light.

“All employees of the Ministry implicated in the fraud will be interdicted in line with the Malawi Public Service Regulations (MPSR). The list of names of people who received the money through their bank accounts but could not be traced as employees of the Ministry of Health will be given to fiscal police to be investigated further,” Chikumbe said while refusing to take more questions.

The report indicates that the funds were sourced from Center for Disease Control (CDC), an agency of the government of the United States of America.

“CDC has supported Malawi from 2001 through the Ministry of Health. Its support covers high impact interventions in HIV response including HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC), Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), Anti Retro Viral Therapy (ART) and Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC),” reads the report in part.

The fraud is apparently an extension of the infamous 2013 Cashgate that saw an initial K24 billion of public funds being shared among corrupt civil servants, contractors and suppliers.

The Cashgate prompted donors to withdraw their budgetary support to the government, sending so many poor Malawians to their early graves as they could not access basic medical treatment.

Just a few weeks ago, another fraud was uncovered at the Malawi Embassy in Ethiopia where a deputy ambassador, Doreen Kapanga, and first secretary for finance and administration, Fletcher Chowe, were implicated and consequently suspended and recalled. The two are suspected to have defrauded the government of K184 million.

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