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IMF delegation visits Malawi over corruption worry

A high-level mission from the International Monitary Fund (IMF) arrived in Malawi Tuesday to investigate how the Joyce Banda administration is dealing with on-going revelations of massive fraud and corruption in government.

“Yes, a delegation from the IMF has arrived in the country and we have started discussions with them,” said Ministry of Finance spokesman Nations Msowoya.

Msowoya said the mission would like to examine how government was responding to the current revelations of massive fraud and corruption being exposed following the unprecedented 13 September shooting of Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo.

The shooting of the 37-year-old technocrat has opened a Pandora’s Box with civil servants being found with millions of kwacha tucked under their beds or in car boots almost on a daily basis.

At least 10 people have been arrested in connection with the unexplained cash.

The IMF mission’s findings is very crucial for budgetary support for the impoverished Southern African country, 40 per cent of whose budget depends on donor injections.

The mission is crucial for Malawi’s Extended Credit Facility with the Breton Woods institutions which acts as the green light for other donors to extend their budgetary support.

The European Union (EU) and Norway have since put their aid packages on ice while the United Kingdom and Germany are reviewing theirs in the wake of reports of massive looting in government.

Meanwhile, a team of forensic auditors from the United Kingdom has arrived in Malawi to help government investigate how millions of dollars were pilfered from the system.

The EU and the UK offered to assist investigating the historic financial fraud in the Malawi government when President Joyce Banda dissolved her cabinet.

Finance Minister Ken Lipenga and Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara were subsequently fired although no direct charges have been levelled against them in connection with the government looting, dubbed ‘cashgate’.

Corruption is endemic in Malawi so much that former Director of Public Prosecutions Fahad Assani, who incidentally has just been appointed Justice Minister with specific instructions to end corruption, famously said 30 per cent of Malawi’s annual budget is lost through fraud and corruption.

A number of former top government officials, including former president Bakili Muluzi and his former ministers, are currently answering fraud and corruption charges in courts.

Up to US$ 100 million is said to have been lost through fraud and corruption during the 10  years Muluzi was in power.

The Banda administration has also just revealed that former president Bingu wa Mutharika, who died from cardiac arrest complications in April 2012, dubiously amassed a net wealth of over 60 billion Malawi kwacha (about US$ 174 million) during the eight years he was in power.

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