Members of Parliament (MPs)—on both sides of the isle—Wednesday spoke in unison on the need to name and shame Controlling Officers in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) who are allegedly swindling the country of budgeted resources.
The lawmakers made the observation when contributing to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament report for 2017/18 financial year presented last Wednesday which revealed stinking rot in MDAs as well as embassies.
Contributing to the debate, Mulanje Bale lawmaker, Victor Musowa, said while the perception out there is that politicians are top thieves in Malawi, the truth is that the people who are pulling back Malawi are Controlling Officers in the civil service and other institutions who are the culprits of the ills cited in the report.
Top on the list of the ills cited in the report include misallocation of funds by MDAs, abuse of funds, unaccounted-for expenditures, as well as spending money on some areas without authorisation of Treasury.
According to Musowa, going through the report, one cannot find politicians as being part of the culprits of the said rot.
He said the people involved in the misallocation of resources, bloated expenditures and abuse of funds are the so called technocrats whom the country has trusted to run affairs of government.
Musowa said the technocrats who are swindling government are busy building mansions in Lilongwe’s uptown suburbs of Area 10, 12 and 43, among others.
“If you do a study on various construction projects and mansions in town, most of the projects belong to technocrats and not politicians.
“When we are discussing the budget here, the technocrats are eagerly waiting in the wings and strategising on how to abuse the same resources,” Musowa charged.
He added that political administrations have in the past failed to develop the country because of the thieving technocrats.
Musowa said if not careful, the Tonse Alliance will not fulfil its promises, including the three-meals-a-day one, if the unscrupulous technocrats are not checked.
Nkhata Bay South East MP Noah Chimpeni also bemoaned the poor record keeping in local councils, saying most expenditure receipts are not available when auditors from the office of the Auditor General visit them.
He wondered how the receipts become available when the Controlling Officers are summoned to Pac.
Mzimba North MP, Yeremia Chihana, said most of the funds being abused in schools, Police and even local councils are because of poor record keeping by the authorities.
On his part, Ntcheu Central MP, Albert Mbawala, said it is unfortunate that most MDAs do not maintain a fixed assets register which is a very basic but crucial accounting tool.
He said the situation results in the technocrats taking advantage of the situation to easily abuse and misplace government assets.
Pac Chairperson, Shadreck Namalomba, said he was encouraged by the reaction from lawmakers on the need to get rid of the rot in government as well as the need to seal loopholes that have resulted in the theft of billions of kwacha.
He said his committee has noted the recommendation to hold public enquiries regarding abuses of resources so that Malawians could be able to know the people who are abusing their taxes.
In one of the biggest public finance scandals in the country, dubbed Cashgate, civil servants reportedly conspired with businesspersons to siphon billions of kwacha from government coffers.