Parliament’s Defence and Security Committee is seeking K42 million from civil society organisations (CSOs) to enable it conduct investigations into the K2.7 billion Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scandal.
Committee chairperson Alex Major said the requested funds will enable them carry out the probe in two weeks. Initially, the committee planned to start the inquiry yesterday, but failed due to lack of funds.
In a letter to the CSOs under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) dated July 20 2018, the committee said it was deeply saddened with the food rations scam.
The probe follows a leaked dossier from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) which documented that PI Ltd made an abortive interest claim of K466 million and deposited K145 million into the DPP account at Standard Bank whose sole signatory is President Peter Mutharika.
Reads the letter: “As a cluster committee, we are deeply concerned with the issue that has happened at Malawi Police Service about the food rations scam. The committee feels that the budget and funds which were approved have not been put to a better use; hence, the need to probe the matter.”
In an interview yesterday, Major justified the request to CSOs, saying the committee has no resources for the exercise as its scheduled meetings are planned for the end of August.
He said: “We are talking about public resources and there is need for a probe. The committee is supposed to meet later in August and it would be too late to start probing the issue then. That is the reason we asked the CSOs to help us with funding.
“I don’t think our probe would be compromised because of the stand taken by the CSOs.”
HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said in an interview they have contacted their donors on the possibility of funding the committee.
The cluster committee is responsible for scrutinising budgets of various government ministries, departments and agencies, including Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service, Malawi Prison Service, Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security and National Intelligence Bureau.
But the planned probe comes at a time the ACB is said to have concluded its investigation into the matter.