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Parliament summons officials over Tractorgate, CDF abuse

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Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament has summoned senior government officials to explain in detail how tractors bought for ordinary farmers ended up in the hands of influential people.

Pac Chairperson, Alekeni Menyani, said this is the second time that Pac is summoning Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Lucas Kondowe, newly appointed Attorney General Charles Mhango, Auditor General Stevenson Kamphasa and Solicitor General Janet Banda.

“Last time we summoned them, they never turned up. Only the Auditor General came. We were told that Mr Kondowe was in South Africa for medical attention, the former Attorney General Mr [Kalekeni] Kaphale was on holiday and the Solicitor General did not show up,” Menyani said.

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The government bought the tractors with a loan from the Indian government on account that they would be given to smallholder farmers to boost agriculture but, in a twist of events, former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika ordered that they be sold out.

Influential people bought the tractors.

Menyani said Pac has also summoned district commissioners (DCs) whose councils are connected with the abuse of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) by some 20 Members of Parliament (MPs).

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An audit report from the National Audit Office indicates 20 legislators abused CDF in 16 councils, and Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said the state would prosecute the culprits.

Menyani said it was imperative to summon the DCs in their capacity as controlling officers of the fund and pin them down on how the money, which goes direct into the main account of councils, was abused by the MPs.

“We cannot summon the Members of Parliament because they are not responsible for the money. It is the district commissioners, as controlling officers, who are responsible for the money. We want to find out what was there between the district commissioners and the Members of Parliament which led to the abuse of the money,” he said.

Menyani said government accounts are now up to date, meaning the auditors managed to audit all account books and the committee members would now be looking at fresh audited account reports.

He said the committee would be sitting intermittently up to November because of partial funding from donors.

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