United Democratic Front (UDF) leader in Malawi Parliament Atupele Muluzi has said the looting of public resources at Capital Hill, widely known as Cashgate, resulted from a government that was not honest, credible and transformative.
Responding to President Peter Mutharika’s State of the Nation Address delivered in Parliament last week Tuesday, Atupele said any government serious about delivering change for Malawi needed to tackle Cashgate, but not just by “being seen” to be doing it, but tackling underlying root causes.
Said Atupele in Parliament on Thursday: “When leaders are unable to articulate policy priorities and implement them through a credible budget, when leaders embezzle the scarce resources Malawians need to stock drugs in hospitals, they also erode confidence of our potential business investors who are vital to creating jobs, especially for the youth.”
Under Cashgate, according to a forensic audit report covering the period April to September 2013, K13 billion was lost from government coffers through siphoning and theft.
Atupele said Cashgate was a result of successive governments failing to develop effective controls and mechanisms to regulate party funding, upgrading salaries in the public service and tackling patronage and nepotism, but also adoption of more transparent financial management, procurement and auditing systems.
He said: “We seem to have built in Malawi what appears to be a political system that continues to allow the privileged few to consume State resources for their private use while disregarding the voices of ordinary Malawians.”
Atupele joined leaders of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lazarus Chakwera and People’s Party chief whip in Parliament Ralph Jooma in calling on the new administration under Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to tackle Cashgate as revealed in the 2013 forensic audit as well as going back to the DPP era.
Chakwera asked DPP to bring to justice all those in the previous PP and DPP administrations who acquired riches and property illegally.
Mutharika has promised to fight corruption through prosecution of all public officers and private sector individuals involved in the theft, fraud and mismanagement of public resources.
Last week, government announced a fresh probe into the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF).
Revelations of Cashgate forced the country’s major development partners under the Common Approach to Budget Support to withhold budget support amounting to $150 million in November last year.
Former president Joyce Banda ordered the audit that revealed massive plunder of public resources. However, critics of her administration argued that only ‘small fish” were being arrested, leaving out suspect “big” fish freely roaming the streets.