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Pressure mounts on government over Sadc expenditure report

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Pressure is piling on the government to meet its promise to produce expenditure report for the 41st Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Summit which took place in the country from August 9 to 18 this year.

Last month, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Rejoice Shumba said the ministry had engaged sub committees on August 27, 2021 to present their reconciled expenditure reports.

She said the committees were consolidating the expenditures to the ministry which was later expected to audit the report before submitting it to the National Audit Office (NAO) for final audit.

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Since then, there has not been any update from the government on the matter.

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) said this week that it is disturbing that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet met its promise to give Malawians a full account on how public resources allocated to the event were used.

“As CHRR we are still demanding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to account for the Sadc expenditure,” said CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa in an interview.

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“What the Ministry is doing is taking Malawians for granted. The amounts of resources that were allocated to this event were huge and Malawians have every right to know how those resources were used,” he added.

Kaiyatsa said the failure to account for the resources could be construed as a sign that the funds were abused “which reflects badly on the government, which came to power on the promise of dealing with corruption in government.”

Kaiyatsa said: “The continued failure by the Ministry to account for these resources is contrary to the principles of Public Finance Management Act, which requires public institutions to be accountable for their performance and be able to give full and accurate accounts on how they have used public resources.”

Director for Centre for Research and Consultancy Milwad Tobias said in an interview that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have provided expenditure details before the public started asking.

“These are public funds mobilised through tax and the public is the one that pays tax. It is money for the people of Malawi as such we deserve to know how the funds were used,” said Tobias.

In response, Secretary for Foreign Affairs Luckie Sikwese said the ministry would give details of the expenditure.

Said Sikwese: “The report will be released at the earliest opportunity when the minister returns from Scotland.”

Officials that travelled with President Lazarus Chakwera to Scotland for the Conference of Parties (COP 26) are expected back at least by this weekend.

At a news conference on August 8, 2021, government announced a K4 billion budget for hosting the 41st Sadc Summit.

The news conference was addressed by Mkaka and Minister of Information Gospel Kazako.

The ministers said out of the K4 billion, K1.2 billion would be used for operations. They did not disclose the amount for the new 20 vehicles.

But Malawi News established that government was in touch with Imperial Motors Limited to supply 10 VVIP vehicles at K1.049 billion and Toyota Malawi for the VIP vehicles at about K980 million.

They also promised an expenditure report after the summit.

During the Sadc Summit, Chakwera assumed the leadership of the regional bloc for one year.

Among others, the Sadc leaders resolved to reignite their long-term objective of creating Sadc Central Bank and Monetary Union.

The leaders also objected to the unilateral decision taken by the African Union Commission to grant the State of Israel Observer Status to the African Union.

The summit also approved the transformation of the Sadc Parliamentary Forum into a Sadc Parliament as a consultative and deliberative body.

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