The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, currently interrogating various players in the Capital Hill cashgate, has come under fire from the public for failing to solicit desired information.
Political and social commentators have observed that the committee needs to be more effective by reorganising itself to get to the root of the Capital Hill cashgate and the shooting of the then Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo who has since been assigned to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) as director of budget analysis.
In an interview on Monday, political commentator, associate professor Mustafa Hussein, observed that PAC’s approach to the scandal and the manner it is trying to get information has left a lot to be desired.
He said: “[PAC] need to up their game. The way they are trying to conduct the hearing shows signs that they are not prepared. It is not clear on what they are trying to find out. The issue of Mphwiyo stands out very clearly.
“The discussion with Mphwiyo was expected to come up with clear evidence to the cashgate and what happened to him. And on the handling of [Peter] Chinoko, I don’t know how he was identified.”
Last week, Chinoko, who is secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) for Lilongwe Archdiocese, courted controversy when he alleged that President Joyce Banda is embroiled in the Capital Hill cashgate.
Yesterday, CCJP national coordinator Chris Chisoni noted that PAC is behaving as if it were a commission of inquiry into the cashgate.
“We have to know clearly their terms of reference. All what they have managed to do is get public curiosity, but that has no practical implications,” he said.
Chisoni observed that PAC’s recommendations might be watered down if the Executive will not be strong-willed to pursue the matter further.
But human rights lawyer Justin Dzonzi appreciated the role of the committee despite its shortfalls, saying: “The committee has done its best.”
He said it was not easy for members of the committee to get to the bottom of the issue due to its complexity.
“The investigations are complex. The committee is dealing with a crime and we need to appreciate that it is dealing with issues that are legal in nature. Most of them are not lawyers. One would have thought the committee would have broken the puzzle but the issues are complex,” he said.
On PAC accountability, Dzonzi said the committee has certain powers to recommend the firing and subsequent prosecution of implicated officers.
Committee chairperson Beatrice Mwangonde was not immediately available for a comment.