The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has stopped the Ministry of Energy from proceeding with awarding of the contract for the purchase of materials for the implementation of phase nine of the Malawi Rural Electrification Project (Marep).
In a statement released Thursday, ACB said it has issued a restriction notice to the Ministry of Energy to stop the process.
“This follows complaints received by the ACB alleging irregularities and suspected corruption surrounding the procurement process of the materials under Marep 9.
“The ACB has instituted investigations into the matter,” reads the statement dated 24 June 2021.
The ACB, therefore, orders the ministry to not proceed with awarding contract “until the ACB has concluded the investigation or lifted the restriction notice.”
In April, Parliament’s Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change (CNCC) sent back officials from Treasury for failing to provide solid information on the Marep audit.
Around the same time, Malawi News revealed that the flagship programme has never been audited for the past 23 years despite blowing K40 billion per year of fuel levy raising serious fears of massive abuse of funds.
The story exposed irregularities such as the award of contracts without certifications by the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority, sub-standard work by contractors and lack of accountability in the usage of Marep funds.
Marep started in 1980 with Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) as the implementing agency through donor and own financing.
Later on, the government took over the implementation of the programme in 1995 and the Department of Energy.
The programme is executed in phases. Since its inception, eight phases of the programme have been implemented.
According to the ministry, this has involved extending power distribution lines to district administration centres, major trading centres, tobacco growing areas and the development of the 4.5MW Wovwe hydroelectric power plant.
The objective of Marep is to increase access to electricity for people in peri-urban and rural areas of the country.