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Parliament secretariat stops public funds abuse enquiries

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Parliament secretariat Tuesday stopped the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of the House from proceeding with its scheduled meetings, which were meant to probe acts of fraud in government.

One of the items on Pac’s agenda included an investigation into allegations that K30 billion meant for Affordable Inputs Programme fertiliser went missing.

When committee members met to adopt the agenda for the meeting at 2pm Tuesday, an official from Parliament’s secretariat told them a committee of chairpersons for various parliamentary committees met and resolved that Pac should not meet.

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He cited the courts’ pending determination on the Pac chairmanship wrangle as the main factor.

Ironically, the meeting was attended by members of the august House’s ruling side while opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers stayed away.

Briefing reporters after the failed meeting, Pac Chairperson Shadric Namalomba, who was recently reinstated as chairperson after seeking the intervention of the courts, described Tuesday afternoon “as one of the saddest days in Malawi’s history”.

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According to Namalomba, what Parliament secretariat did, by “blocking” the inquiry, will give “looters” the licence to continue with their activities.

“I am very disappointed. This is a sad day for Malawi. We, as Pac, wanted to conduct enquires into the merciless looting of public resources and we have been stopped. Let the public be the best judge,” Namalomba said.

According to the meeting’s agenda, which Namalomba circulated to Pac members at the weekend, committee members were also set to look at issues such as abuse of cash, through allowances, at the office of the Accountant General.

In addition, Pac was on course to probe the issue of funds, amounting to over K12 billion, that are believed to have gone missing at Export Development Fund.

Other probes Pac had lined up are an enquiry into expenditures incurred during the recent United Nations General Assembly trip and a probe into the alleged involvement of Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation senior officers in insurance fraud.

However, Pac member Ken Zikhale Ng’oma blamed infighting within the opposition DPP as the main factor behind the failed meeting.

“Since the various factions of the DPP started fighting, Pac has been incapacitated,” he said.

Zikhale Ng’oma said individuals that are jostling for the Pac chairmanship are all DPP members

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