K854 million Sadc summit debt haunts government


By Deogratias Mmana:

The partial expenditure report for the 41st Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Heads of State summit which took place in Lilongwe in August 2021 shows that the government is yet to pay suppliers of goods and services K854,776,815.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the report on Saturday, almost nine months after the summit.


The report has been released following Foreign Affairs Minister Nancy Tembo’s commitment to furnish Malawians with the report after President Lazarus Chakwera expressed, at a press conference at Kamuzu Palace last Monday, concern over the ministry’s failure to account for the funds.

Chakwera was reacting to a question from The Daily Times about the ministry’s failure to account for Sadc funds.

Journalists and governance institutions have been pressuring the ministry to account for the funds.


In the statement, the ministry says, due to financial constraints, the Sadc budget was scaled down from K4 billion to K2.9 billion.

It, however, says the Treasury gave it only K1.2 billion in the 2020-21 National Budget and K700 million in the 2021-22 National Budget.

The ministry says it has a budget gap of K1 billion.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will pay the outstanding invoices once it is funded by the Ministry of Finance,” the statement reads.

Among other things, the budget shows that the government spent K182,395,000 on the Malawi Police Service, K118,417,463 on the National Intelligence Service, K10,196,000 on Malawi Defence Force and K16,900,000 on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services for the provision of security.

It also spent K37,850,000 on entertainment, K143,310,300 on decorations, K45,455,118 on health and K62,239,000 on media and publicity.

At a news conference organised in August 2021, the government announced that it had pegged the Sadc budget at K4 billion, out of which K1.2 billion was for operations.

However, The Daily Times’ investigations revealed that the government initially wanted to purchase 20 vehicles which included 10 Very Very Important Persons vehicles at about K1.049 billion from Imperior Motors Limited and another 10 Very Important Persons vehicles from Toyota Malawi at K980 million. The budget for the 20 vehicles was about K2 billion.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson John Kabaghe confirmed that the ministry had released the report.

The released report has attracted mixed reactions, with Centre for Research and Consultancy Director Milwad Tobias saying some of the figures in the expenditure report do not make sense.

“It is difficult to make sense of the budget figures. For example, security budget lines appear high, considering that the officers were drawn from Lilongwe duty stations.

“Similarly, we do not know what the entertainment package was to justify the amount,” Tobias said.

He also blamed the government for sticking to the purchase of 20 new vehicles for a one-week event.

“The decision to buy new vehicles for a weeklong event was ill-conceived unless the government says it was not possible to hire [vehicles] from car hiring companies. All the same, since the budget convinced the Ministry of Finance [to release funds], let us hope this was the best they could do,” he said.

Church and Society of Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Executive Director, Reverend Master Jumbe, urged public institutions to be transparent when using taxpayers’ money.

He, however, commended the ministry for submitting the report and asked it to ensure that it submits a comprehensive one.

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