Malawi Government has ordered the release of the 2013/2014 external audit results of all district councils and banned the practice of transferring district commissioners (DCs) implicated in financial irregularities amid fears of worsening abuse of funds.
The development comes amid a background of several district councils recently being implicated in financial mismanagement scandals that have resulted in several development partners, including the World Bank and the European Union (EU), recently requesting Treasury to reimburse some of the mismanaged funds.
In an interview on Wednesday, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Trasizio Gowelo confirmed the decision to order the release of the audits, saying the results were delayed by lack of funds.
He said government was concerned by reports of gross mismanagement within the various councils and pledged a tough stance about the current administration to uproot the malpractices.
“I have directed the National Local Government Finance Committee [NLGFC] to quickly release the 2013/14 external audit reports for councils, which were due in October last year. The exercise was funded by our cooperating partners and we can only be appreciative by producing and releasing the final reports. The reports will obviously assist us to address the issues raised,” said Gowelo.
The draft Local Government bill has already proposed outlawing the transfer of DCs from one council to another, but Gowelo said government has further ordered with immediate effect a suspension of all transfers involving DCs who are implicated in financial mismanagement.
Gowelo said: “While the reforms will likely provide lasting solutions to many of the local government challenges, as an interim arrangement, I have further ordered that the transferring of DCs who have messed up finances from one council to another must stop immediately. We need to deal with such cases right away there and then. We can’t keep transferring problems from one council to another.”
Gowelo explained that the audit results were delayed by funding woes, but while stressing that the results would be released soon, he failed to give a time frame for their issuance.
The Auditor General is mandated to release the results to Parliament.
Last year, Treasury confirmed it was to refund K45 million ($90 000) to the World Bank after the bank was unhappy with Dowa and Phalombe district councils’ failure to account for the money which was part of the Public Works Programme. Similar scandals have hit several councils.