By Deogratias Mmana
As details emerge over how government officials abused K6.2 billion meant for the fight against Covid-19, the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has come out in its owe defence, declaring to all that it never abused the money.
On Friday, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) demanded answers as to why the National Audit Office did not see it fit to include MDF and the Malawi Police Service in the audit report.
Asked why they are not appearing in the audit report, MDF commander Vincent Nundwe said that he has no mandate or control over the exclusion of his institution from K6.2 billion Covid-19 investigative forensic audit report.
But Nundwe admitted that MDF got K185 million for Covid-19 activities in two tranches. He also admitted that auditors went to his institution for their investigation.
“I am not the one in charge of the report. It is up to the authorities that submitted the report to explain why we are not there,” said Nundwe.
He added: “We had auditors. They came and they had an entry brief with me and an exit brief after finishing. It is not my problem if our report is not included. We have not hidden anything.”
Nundwe said MDF first received K85 million in November 2020 which his predecessor, General Peter Namathanga, started using and later in February this year, MDF got another chunk of K100 million.
Among others, he said, the money was spent on personal protective equipment, logistics and security.
“All that money was spent according to the guidelines Dodma [Department of Disaster and Management Affairs] gave us,” he said, adding that auditors visited MDF in March this year when most of the money was not yet used.
But the top soldier took a swipe at some Malawians who he said have the interest in seeing others in trouble.
“Malawians would always want to see someone in trouble. The auditors said they saw no issues but people want to see us interdicted,” said Nundwe.
Malawi Police Service spokesperson James Kadadzera said National Audit Office was better placed to explain why MPS was also excluded from the report.
But NAO spokesperson Rabson Kagwamminga said yesterday that those institutions that are not in the report but were audited were clean.
He confirmed that NAO audited MDF and Police but did not find any issues worth reporting.
“It is not about security issues. There were no issues that were material enough to report on. They were found clean,” said Kagwamminga.
He added that if it were for security issues, National Intelligence Service, the Immigration Department and Malawi Prisons would not have been included in the report.
Communication from MDF to the Secretary of Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs dated February 4, 2021 shows that the military received K85 million on November 10, 2020.
MDF told Dodma in the communication that the intended activities did not take place as MDF had commitment to rotate its troops who were deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo for United Nations peacekeeping operations from December 1 2020 to January 21, 2021.
“Currently we have MK100,000,000.00 meant for border patrols and other internal Covid activities of which the amount has been diverted to Bingu National Stadium Field Isolation Hospital security coverage through your direction and guidance you gave,” reads the letter with reference number OPS&TRG/A/125/1.
The letter further reads: “For reminder and your information, MDF estimates towards BNS Covid is MK272, 000,000.00 for a period of three months, hence the MK100, 000,000.00 is part of the budget which covers only for one month. This gives a shortfall of MK172, 000,000.00 and with your permission, guidance and direction we intend to beef up with MK85, 000,000.00 to give us deficiency of MK87, 000, 000.00 on BNS Covid-19 security activities.”