Pac lines up 7 ‘fraud’ cases for inquiry


By Rebecca Chimjeka


The Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament has lined up seven cases of suspected looting of government resources for inquiry starting this week.



In a letter inviting members of the committee to a meeting for the inquiry, Pac chairperson Shadrec Namalomba says the meeting has been necessitated by what he called the “growing levels” of looting, fraud and corruption in government ministries.



The meeting, according to Namalomba, starts Tuesday, October 18, and will run up to November 4.


Among the cases Pac has listed for inquiry is an allegation that government has been swindled K30 billion in a fertiliser supply deal.


While the allegation has been rolling on social media for a month or so, government only came in on Thursday. In a statement, the Ministry of Agriculture denied the loss of that amount.


However, it indicated it has been duped of K750 million which it paid to a United Kingdom firm as commitment fee for the supply of fertilisers.


The firm, Barkaat Foods Limited, terminated the contract after it received the money and said it would not be able to supply the fertiliser.


There are allegations that the firm has since closed shop over the past two months, raising fears whether the money could be returned as indicated by the ministry. The ministry said in its statement the money would be repaid by the end of this month.


The office of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has also announced it has instructed the Malawi Police Service to launch criminal investigations into the matter.


The other cases which Pac will also conduct inquiries on include: Abuse of cash allowances at the Accountant General’s office, the missing of K12 billion at the Export Development Fund, allegations of presidential aides showing off bundles of United States dollars, alleged involvement of Admarc officials in insurance fraud and the usage of K17.5 billion Covid funds.


Namalomba said they will also inquire into government expenditure in relation to President Lazarus Chakwera’s trip to the United Nations General Assembly.


“We are mandated by section 18 and 19 of the Public Audit Act and Standing Order 161 of Parliament to provide oversight into usage of public resources by public officials including ministers, civil servants and anyone in receipt of government resources,” Namalomba said.


However, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence has cautioned the committee against making their meeting just another ceremonial and routine matter with no tangible results to expected.


“Our expectation is not only a mere investigation in order to produce a report but rather to take the issue further to make sure that those suspected are prosecuted and punished accordingly,” Trapence said.


He said HRDC expects the committee to ensure that Parliament discusses the resulting report and pass resolutions to push the President to act on the matter.

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