By Garvey Karvei/ Nyasatimes
A special investigation of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), conducted by the Central Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Finance, uncovered rampant mismanagement of public resources at the electoral body, Nyasa Times has established.
The report Reference No 1A/270/15/0018, issued on August 7, 2015, was addressed to the Secretary to the Treasury and copied to the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, the Accountant General, the Auditor General and the Chief Elections Officer.
It states that MEC flouted procedures and the amounts questioned are in excess of MK1.5 billion. The 40 page long report cites:
Procuring and spending outside budget and failure to maintain appropriate accounting records;
Recruiting staff without following laid down procedures;
Procuring without due regard to regulations; and,
Disposing used vehicles to the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), commissioners and staff in a non-procedural manner.
The above some of the irregularities that have cost the tax-payer funds in excess of MK1.5 billion, an amount can ill-afford to waste.
Already K20 billion was lost in the Cashgate scandal on President Joyce Banda’s watch, while K577 billion was misappropriated during President Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule. Donors stopped assisting Malawi as a result. MEC is one of the few institutions still receiving assistance from multilateral donors.
Summarizing the catalogue of non-compliance to the Public Financial Management Act, the report, seen by Nyasa Times and subjected to various authentication correspondences with the Spokesman of the Treasury, the Chief Secretary, the Chairperson and CEO of MEC, the National Audit Office, and other stakeholders, queries MEC on:
Irregularities in staff recruitment;
Anomalies in disposal of used motor vehicles; and
Non-compliance with procurement law.
Financial mismanagement, amounts queried total MK883,537,531.00
Specific findings include:
Incomplete accounting records which it states can mislead management into making inappropriate decisions;
Maintaining an unnecessary number of bank accounts which complicates tracking of funds;
Unreliable bank reconciliations which can ease occurrence and concealment of fraud as was the case with “cashgate”;