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Treasury demands Mec audit

Government has demanded a fresh one month investigative audit at the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) by July 31 this year.

Secretary to Treasury, Ronald Mangani, has written the Auditor General to conduct a comprehensive audit.

Treasury spokesperson, Nations Msowoya, confirmed the probe and justified the July deadline, saying government could not leave it open ended.

“We want the scope and more details. We want a more comprehensive audit than the previous [one]. Things that were overlooked in the previous audit should be covered,” he said.

Msowoya could not explain whether senior Mec officers from the rank of director to chief elections officer would immediately go on forced leave as was recommended last month to pave way for the audit.

He only said: “We already made arrangements. The rest we would want them to do it themselves. Ask them.”

Mec spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said he had not seen the letter.

“Maybe the Mec Chairman was served with a copy for his noting as you say it is from Treasury to the Auditor General. If the Auditor General has been instructed to conduct another investigative audit, Mec will fully cooperate with the auditors as usual. We will wait for the TORs for the auditors so that we can prepare for the investigative audit,” Mwafulirwa said.

Last year, an audit report by the Central Internal Audit in the Ministry of Finance exposed fraud at Mec involving secretariat staff and some commissioners through among others, dubious claims for field allowances for trips not undertaken.

In May this year, government, donors and other stakeholders meeting in Lilongwe under a Malawi Electoral Cycle Support (Mecs) Project Steering Committee recommended that Mec top-brass should go on administrative leave to allow for investigations.

Donors, led by Britain, rejected Mec’s explanation regarding expenditure of K15,422,756 between July 2012 and December 2014 suspecting that the money was stolen.

Mec Chairperson Maxon Mbendera at the time blamed the media for having spread what he described as unsubstantiated reports, referred to by President Peter Mutharika, as massive looting.

Mbendera said Mec had defended itself over the audit queries and that the auditors and the government could not challenge the query responses.

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