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No papers for Malawi properties in South Africa

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The latest audit report by the country’s Auditor General for selected ministries, departments and some embassies has revealed that properties that belong to the Malawi Government at the Johannesburg Consulate in South Africa have no ownership papers.

The audit inspection of financial and other information for the Malawi Consulate in Johannesburg is for the years ending June 30 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and was completed in March 2020.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Nancy Tembo has said they are looking into the matter.

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“We are aware of the reports and we are investigating the matter,” Tembo said.

According to the audit report, the consulate did not have a non-current asset register to monitor the assets, contrary to requirements.

“The consulate was not certain on the number of properties they have. It was also noted that the consulate did not have ownership papers for almost all the properties Malawi Government has in and/ or around Johannesburg,” the report reads.

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According to the Audit, this is against the Chief Secretary Circular from to the government, dated March 2 2010 and titled ‘Government Physical Assets Register’.

The letter stipulates that all controlling officers shall maintain an asset register for all noncurrent assets bought using public resources in both electronic and hardcopies. The assets register shall conform to the format provided by the Secretary to the Treasury for all classes of fixed assets.

The report further shows that, despite Treasury Instruction (2004), Section 5.7.2 (e), stipulating that all controlling officers should ensure that revenue collected should be banked, the Johannesburg consulate failed to account for K54,560,045 (Zar142, 550) in revenue.

“An inspection of payment vouchers and bank statements disclosed that funds amounting to K54,560,045 (ZAr142, 550) were transferred from revenue account to other accounts and used for other activities without authority from Treasury,” the audit report reads.

It further indicates that money amounting to K10,946,995.92 (Zar206,303.55) was paid as school fees for diplomats’ children despite a discontinuation order dated March 31 2016, from the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and international.

The circular ordered that all Malawi missions abroad should pay school fees in cash as opposed to paying directly to learning institutions.

According to the circular, school fees would instead be paid to diplomats as a fixed sum of money in form of allowances.

“An inspection of payment vouchers and other related documents revealed that the consulate paid school fees direct to third parties amounting to K10,946,995.92 which was against the above regulation,” the audit report reads.

The audit report also shows that about K9,581,758.38 (Zar179,432.20) payment vouchers were audited without adequate supporting documents.

“An inspection of payment vouchers and other related records revealed that, in February, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation borrowed K2,680,598.76 (Zar 50,605.98) from the consulate’s revenue (immigration) account number 007445024 for meeting repatriation costs of the remains of Necton Mhura who died in the United States. However, contrary to the quoted Treasury requirement, the funds had not yet been reimbursed to the consulate’s revenue account,” it reads.

Among other things, the consulate delayed in banking revenue amounting to K30,991,271.02 (Zar 584,410).

An inspection of payment vouchers, invoices and stores ledgers indicated that some stores’ items amounting to K6,664,070.40 (ZAr71,068.04) could not be accounted for through the store’s ledger.

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