Some government officials are working tirelessly to suppress the truth in the on-going audit at Malawi’s Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia following revelations that over K184 million was stolen by officials there, Malawi Punch can reveal.
A preliminary audit report into a suspected fraud indicates that over K184 million might have been stolen covering a period of 12 months.
Deputy Ambassador Doreen Kapanga and Fletcher Chowe, who was first secretary for administration and finance, were suspended and recalled from mission after being implicated in the fraud.
A report compiled by Chief Internal Auditor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spencer Mulekano revealed that assistant auditor Gift Mawango, who is part of the team auditing the embassy’s office, has been receiving intimidatory mobile phone text messages, warning them about the issue.
The report mentions Mr. F.Y. Phiri of Central Internal Audit Office and Mr. Kajiya (accounts assistant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Remittance Section) as some of the government officials who have been intimidating the auditing team.
The text messages have been warning Mawango to take care and not to do the work as the matter is too sensitive and dangerous and can get him into trouble. In one of the texts sent by Kajiya, Mawango was questioned why he kept putting too much pressure on Chowe, the first suspect in the fraud.
The report indicates that Mawango has been failing to operate effectively due to the intimidation, adding that Ambassador Chimango Chirwa has assured him of safety.
The report also bemoans the slow pace with which officials at Capitol Hill are moving in facilitating the probe, citing refusal by some officials in submitting vital documents and information to assist in the probe.
Deputy Ambassador Doreen Kapanga and Fletcher Chowe, who was first secretary for administration and finance, were suspended and recalled from mission after being implicated in the fraud that has seen government losing K184 million.
The fraud was first detected when Chowe allegedly wrote a cheque of US$30,000 in his name and the cheque was signed by Kapanga.
Meanwhile, government has recalled its envoys from Kenya, Zambia and Japan and relocating some amidst report that President Peter Mutharika is “absolutely furious” with the fraud at Malawi mission in Addis Ababa and has called for thorough investigations.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has instituted reforms in Malawi’s missions abroad which includes reducing the number of diplomats in established positions from 234 to 152 and established an appraisal system to apply to local and Malawi staff.
Government has since recalled 82 diplomats from the country’s foreign missions and plans to reduce the number further by the end of June next year. There are 19 Malawi foreign missions of which eight are in Africa, four in Europe, five in Asia in addition to the United Nations mission in New York, United States of America.