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Peter Mutharika, Kamlepo Kalua trade barbs

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President Peter Mutharika h a s given firebrand Vice Chairperson of Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament, Kamlepo Kalua, 24 hours to furnish him with the purported names of seven cabinet ministers implicated in the K577 billion audit report or shut up.

But the outspoken Rumphi East legislator has hit back and has also given Mutharika 24 hours to arrest the ministers or step down as President.

The remarks by Mutharika come hot on the heels of claims by Kalua that Mutharika is in possession of files with names of the ministers in his ruling DPP cabinet and that the President is shielding them.

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Speaking in Salima, on Monday, during an official opening ceremony of a sugar factory, Mutharika challenged Kalua to give him the names “or stop making noise about the names once and for all”.

“This MP from the North should bring the names at Kamuzu Palace or he should shut up forever. I sent the Chief Secretary to the Auditor General and he came back saying there are no such names,” Mutharika told the gathering.

In an interview, Kalua nonetheless insisted that Mutharika is not being honest, saying the office of the Auditor General is a public institution and is answerable to government machinery, arguing that it is a joke for the President to express ignorance on the names.

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“I am also giving him 24 hours to arrest these thieves in his cabinet or he should resign because he seems he is not in control. He cannot intimidate some of us. Let him follow up with the Auditor General (AG) because the AG said he submitted 13 files to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and out of those files, seven belonged to cabinet ministers,” Kalua said.

He said if Parliament were meeting, he could have named and shamed the ministers a thing he cannot do outside the privilege of Parliament.

Recently, Auditor General, Kalekeni Kaphale, moved in and gagged Pac as well as ACB and the National Audit Office (Nao) after giving a legal opinion of the matter.

“We have the list involving seven cabinet ministers and one senior government official but our hands are tied because of the legal challenges. The President is a lawyer himself and he is immune to prosecution unlike some of us. He can make public the names of the cabinet ministers and sack them so they can be properly prosecuted.

“I cannot release the list because, obviously, I can be sued and if I fail to pay, I can be declared bankrupt and lose my seat,” Kalua told The Daily Times in an earlier interview.

K577 billion was suspected to have been siphoned from public coffers according to a data analysis by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) of May 2015 but the unreconciled funds have been revised downwards to about K236.

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