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Malawi Electoral Commission bosses sent on leave

The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has finally sent on leave its Chief Elections Officer, Willie Kalonga, and six other members of staff to pave way for an independent audit into queries that were raised by the Central Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Finance last year.

The other six officers are Harris Potani (Deputy Chief Elections Officer for Operations), Khumbo Phiri (Director of Finance), George Khaki (Director of Administration and Human Resources), Edington Chilapondwa (Procurement Manager), Chimwemwe Kamala (Procurement Officer) and Sydney Ndembe (Assistant Procurement Officer).

Mec Commissioner, Linda Kunje, who is chairperson of the Finance and Administration Committee, confirmed the development in a telephone interview yesterday.

“That’s correct. They are seven people. I should emphasise that these people are not guilty. We have done it to pave way for an independent audit query,” she said.

Kunje said the audit team will complete its work within a short period and the commission will at that point make known to the public the outcome of the review and the possible action that it would take.

She ruled out a possibility that the absence of the seven will jeopardise preparations of the forthcoming by-elections.

“The commission would like to assure all the stakeholders that it is committed to ensuring that its operations adhere to all legal, public and international standards, hence the need to engage this independent audit team,” Kunje said.

Early this month, a three-man committee was appointed to probe allegations of financial abuse of K15 million at the electoral body between July 2012 and December 2014.

The committee comprises Auditor General, Stevenson Kamphasa, retired Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Duncan Tambala and Rex Harawa, Managing Partner for AMG Global.

The composition of the committee and the suspension follow a resolution, in May this year, by delegates to the Malawi Electoral Steering Committee meeting to send on forced leave Mec senior managers.

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