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Ministry implicated in K7.2 billion scam

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GIFT TRAPENCE

The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has been called in to investigate the Ministry of Education for messing up the implementation of Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project (Mesip) where billions of kwacha are believed to have been lost.

Ministry of Education was implementing the Mesip where it was expected to build 500 classrooms, 300 latrine blocks, focusing mainly on girls’ sanitation needs and some 150 water points in eight districts of Kasungu, Dedza, Lilongwe Rural West, Mzimba South, Thyolo, Mangochi, Machinga, and Chikwawa.

However, the letter from Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to ACB, which The Daily Times has seen, shows that HRDC is asking ACB to probe some Ministry of Education officials for allegedly being entangled in a construction scam involving 36 primary schools in eight districts of the country.

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The schools were being built with the aim of improving equity for the most disadvantaged, including girls using $9.6 million (K7.2 billion).

The HRDC letter, dated August 2, 2020 addressed to ACB’s Director General, Reyneck Matemba, alleges that some officials at the ministry connived with some contractors to be paid for some schools that were not built, for uncompleted work, for shoddy work and in some instances for non-existent work.

HRDC Chairperson, Gift Trapence, confirmed Sunday sending the letter to ACB, saying the bureau has already responded positively to commence investigations on the matter.

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“We have received information that Ministry of Education officials, Directorate of Buildings officials and some contractors connived such that contractors were paid for some schools that were not built, for uncompleted work, for shoddy work and in some instance for non-existent work.

“We appeal to ACB to commence the investigations as soon as possible and that the anti corruption body will update the nation when the investigations have started,” he said.

Matemba confirmed yesterday that they received the letter last week and have commenced investigations on the matter.

Mesip under the component improving equity for the most disadvantaged, including girls was aimed at supporting availability of sanitation targeting girls towards improvement of retention of teenage girls especially in standards 6-8.

Both Minister and Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education could not be reached for a comment but spokesperson, Chikondi Chimala, asked more time to consult on the matter.

The four year project has four components which were approved to take off in 2016 and is expected to wind up in December 2020.

This is part of the HRDC’s whistle-blower initiative where Malawians are being asked to report cases of abuses involving individuals and groups in government and public companies.

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