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Malawi: First ‘cashgate’ case sentencing shifted to Monday

Sentencing in the first cashgate case has been shifted to Monday, 6 October.

High Court judge Justice Ivy Kamanga, was scheduled to sentence Treza Namathanga Senzani, former Principal Secretary for Tourism, on Thursday.

Senzani became the first convict in the systematic plunder of public resources from the government payment system, dubbed ‘cashgate’.

“We received communication this morning that sentencing has been postponed to Monday,” said her lawyer Necton Mhura.

Senzani pleaded guilty to stealing 63 million Malawi Kwacha (about US$ 150,000) from her ministry.

An audit by British auditors, Baker Tilly, commissioned by former president Joyce Banda, revealed that 13 billion Malawi Kwacha (about US$ 30 million) had been systematically skimmed from the government payment system in a period of six months last year.

Businessmen and politicians connived with civil servants for payments of goods and services not rendered to government.

‘Cashgate’ unravelled following the shooting of former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo in September last year. Following Mphwiyo’s shooting huge sums of money in Malawi Kwacha, South African Rands and US dollars started showing up in unlikely places like car boots or under the pillow as the suspects were avoiding formal banking sector since the unexplained money could have raised eye-brows.

At least 70 people were arrested and are currently answering theft, fraud, corruption and money laundering charges in courts.

Western donor nations, who bank roll at least 40 per cent of Malawi’s budget, reacted by pulling the plug on the earmarked US$ 150 million in budgetary support.

‘Cashgate’ is Malawi’s biggest financial scandal in the southern African country’s 50-year history as an independent country.

‘Cashgate’ could have cost Banda, Africa’s second female president, the May 20 elections.

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