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Mec vehicles back on auction

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Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) vehicles that sheriffs impounded in March this year are back on the market for the auctioneers hammer after three debtors successfully moved the court to vacate a stay order the electoral body obtained to stop the sale.

The vehicles which include three 10-tonne lorries, a 16-seater minibus and two patrol vehicles that United Nations Development Programme donated were also advertised and viewed by prospective buyers three weeks ago but Mec obtained a stay order before the auctioning date.

The now financially struggling and under funds mismanagement probe electoral body has failed to pay three companies namely Universal Trading Company, Platinum Solutions and Transworld Radio about K90 million within the agreed time.

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In an interview yesterday, Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said the court vacated the stay order last week paving way for the sale.

“Mec indicated that they were still negotiating with government through the treasury for a bail out but as sheriffs always follow procedures that if the timeframe given for an institution to settle debts expires, they have to go further and act by auctioning the property to settle debts. That is why Sheriffs are moving on to auction some of the vehicles that were impounded including six Mec vehicles,” Mvula said.

He, however, said computers and other office accessories that were also impounded from the electoral body are not part of the sale as the stay order against their auctioning is still intact.

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Mec sought the intervention of the treasury for a bailout package due to several outstanding debts with several suppliers mostly emanating from 2014 tripartite elections but the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe strongly said the government is not doing so anytime soon.

During its meeting last week, Malawi Electoral Cycle Support (Mecs) Project Steering Committee comprising government officials and development partners resolved to send all senior managers at Mec including Chief Elections Officer Willie Kalonga on forced leave to pave way for investigations into allegations of financial abuse.

A three member team of the Malawi Law Society, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi and audit and advisory firm Delloite is expected to undertake the probe.

Already, donors led by Britain have rejected Mec’s explanation regarding expenditure of K15, 422,756 between July 2012 and December 2014 suspecting that the money was stolen.

The audit which the Central Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Finance performed between April 27 and May 15 last year revealed abuse of funds at Mec.

It is suspected over K1.3 billion was not accounted for during the auditing process.

A summary of the findings noted that Mec management ignored legal and regulatory guidelines as provided in the Public Finance management Act, Public Procurement Act and Malawi Public Service regulations and maintained incomplete accounting records due to inexperienced accounting personnel in public accounting system.

The Audit also said Mec was maintaining numerous and unnecessary bank accounts, the reconciliation of which was not reliable because of lack of proper maintenance of cashbooks and other accounting methods.

The audit report forced Mec to make the documents and records that constitute its responses to the audit, public with an argument that the report did not incorporate electoral body’s responses.

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