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Pac irks Speaker on Bingu wa Mutharika wealth

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Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, has questioned the impartiality of some members of Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of the House for allegedly giving lame excuses for not probing into wealth of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

Msowoya said the recent stand taken by Pac Chairperson, Alekeni Menyani, that the committee has no mandate to proceed with investigations into the matter raises questions on whether members of the committee are familiar with their oversight functions.

Menyani, who all along was adamant to see the investigation conducted, has surprisingly changed tune and now believes the Business Committee of Parliament has such powers.

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But Msowoya in an interview on Monday said: “The Business Committee has no oversight functions, such responsibilities rests with Public Accounts Committee and my office already gave them a go-ahead to undertake the probe.

“Ask them whether they are aware of their oversight functions or some are only overzealous committee members who would perhaps ask the Speaker or Leader of Opposition to help solve a matter which is supposed to be done by Pac.”

Meanwhile, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has urged the two parties to resolve their differences and decide on the way forward.

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“It is of utmost importance that each committee of Parliament clearly understands its mandate. By failing to agree on which committee should take up the matter, our leaders are doing a great disservice to the nation as the matter has stagnated.

“Let the leadership of the two committees together with the Speaker engage and decide on the way forward. Failure to decide on this very important matter really raises eyebrows,” CCJP National Secretary, Martin Chiphwanya, said.

During Parliament meeting earlier in June, Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire presented in the House documents challenging how Mutharika, who at a time he ascended into office in 2004 was worth K150 million, had allegedly accumulated money worth over $369 million (K270 billion), apart from assets around the world at the time of his demise seven years later.

The five-page document contained a number of assets such as two presidential flats in Australia, four houses in Singapore, four terraces in Macau and a number of pieces of land in Zimbabwe.

At the time, government ministers trashed the document as baseless immaterial, and that it lacked authenticity, adding that it could not be discussed by the House.

However, Mkandawire insisted that he was only assisting government with information on which to act on by instituting a probe into how such questionable wealth could be accumulated within the period.

He gave examples of Nigeria and Zaire, where he said incumbent leaders investigated former presidents and managed to recover billions stolen from taxpayers which he said were being hidden in offshore accounts.

“Why can’t we do the same? Why should we be busy worshiping leaders who have stolen money from their people? We are setting a wrong precedent to our young ones that it is fine to steal. What type of leaders are we raising?” Mkandawire queried.

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