Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa has come under fire for pocketing Covid allowances amounting to K3.7 million since becoming member of the Presidential Taskforce.
According to a document that The Daily Times has seen, Nankhumwa was pocketing K60,000 twice as daily subsistence allowances (DSA) and fuel allowance.
The breakdown shows that, between October 2 2020 and January 26 2021, the Democratic Progressive Party legislator received a total of K1.2 million in DSA and K2, 5 million in fuel refunds.
Information Minister and government spokesperson Gospel Kazako said, since the issue has ignited public debate, all the details would be made available to the citizenry accordingly.
“Any comment from us has the potential to be misinterpreted as the committee being on collision course with its own member. We need to, as much as possible, avoid any confusion. This issue of K6.2 billion has given this government an opportunity to deal with theft and abuse of public resources once and for all,” Kazako said.
But Nankhumwa said the allegations were politically motivated.
He said it was true that he received the allowances, saying, as someone who was entitled to a house in Lilongwe as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, he was forced to be travelling from his constituency in Mulanje because the government was yet to provide him with his benefits as opposition leader.
“I have a personal house in Lilongwe where I operate from when I am in Lilongwe but, most of the times, I operate from Mulanje. During those times, I was actually operating from Mulanje. Today I am in Mulanje and there is a meeting there in Lilongwe. I sent apologies that I am at a funeral in my constituency but if I were to go, they would have given me allowances,” he said.
Nankhumwa said, in fact, the money came to him in brown envelops without anywhere to sign for it.
He further said there was no breakdown as to how much of the money was for DSA and how much was for fuel.
“If you look at that breakdown, you will see that there is nowhere I signed. Actually this is the first time that I am seeing that breakdown. It is clear that someone at the Covid secretariat just sat down and compiled that,” he said.
However, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Gift Trapence said Nankhumwa could not use the excuse of the government’s failure to provide him with a house to justify why he was getting allowances.
“If he does not receive his entitlements, he should write the government on that. He cannot say I get this money because government does not give me my entitlements. We, as HRDC, are shocked and are demanding that he should repay the money,” he said.