Malawi Government is looking for K170 million (US$406 698) to speed up cashgate trials set to start on January 29 2014, Minister of Information Brown Mpinganjira has confirmed.
Authorities will initially start prosecuting cases handled by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) before taking to court from February 4 2014 those under the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Government recently announced that it would need to move judges and find new court spaces to achieve the target of prosecuting seven cases a week.
Sources told Nation on Sunday this week that a cashgate committee comprising the Judiciary, ACB and DPP have been meeting recently and agreed on a working figure of about K170 million to enable courts to speed up the trials.
Mpinganjira, while confirming the figure in an interview yesterday, said government departments were still discussing way of cutting the figure to minimise the burden on the taxpayer and donors.
“That is the initial budget, but discussions are underway to reduce the figure,” he said.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya said in an e-mail response on Friday that an agreement on the final budget for the prosecution of the cases has not been reached yet.
He, however, said donors such as Germany, Norway, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) and European Union were considering helping fund Capital Hill to prosecute the cases.
“Funding from government will come from the normal funding that government provides to institutions such as Judiciary, Ministry of Justice and ACB,” he said.
In a separate interview, Solicitor General Janet Banda said the deployment of judges from North and Southern regions, hiring of spaces for courts and travels as well as compensation for the judges’ extra work would all be possible if the money is available.
“We just need enough money to start the cases. We need the money for operations. Cashgate is in special category and if funding permits, we are going to move the judges,” she said.
Recently, Mpinganjira said there were arrangements that judges will be moved from Blantyre and Mzuzu to reinforce the Judiciary in Lilongwe and fast-track prosecution of cashgate cases.
He also said the Judiciary has made special arrangements to move judges to Lilongwe where they would ensure courts hear seven cashgate cases in a week instead of two as would be the case with the current capacity of the Judiciary in Lilongwe.
On Friday, Minister of Justice Fahad Assani confirmed that ACB and DPP officials have been meeting with Lilongwe High Court judge in-charge Esmie Chombo who assured government that some magistrates would be moved from various places.
He also said the Judiciary was making arrangements to find more court space in Lilongwe for trying cashgate cases.
“They have identified additional court space in Nathenje and Lumbadzi,” he said.