You may not have heard of it yet, but another fraud case has gone off in Malawi. According to Times Live, 63 health workers have been suspended after being suspected of siphoning US HIV/ AIDS funds amounting to millions of dollars. (Yahoo News report here: Malawi suspends 63 civil servants over stolen US funds)
Peter Kumpalume who is the Health Minister told local newspaper the Daily Times that senior officials from the health ministry’s Finance, Human Resources and HIV and AIDS departments were “suspended to allow auditors to investigate and audit the accounts”.
This is a further blow on the East African country’s attempts to fight corruption and fraud since there are currently several other open investigations into corruption by officials which are yet to be concluded
Among them is the investigation into the MK577 billion which went missing between 2009 and 2014, the MK91 billion unaccounted for under the leadership of President Bingu Wa Mutharika, the K1.97 billion that went missing during Bakili Muluzi’s tenure as president, and the Cashgate Corruption case under Joyce Banda’s government. While there are overlaps, the latest scandal highlights the scale of Malawi’s problems. It’s an understatement to say the country faces a monumental challenge in dealing with corruption and fraud by civil servants and other public servants/ office bearers. And unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of willpower or hesitation on the part of successive governments to get to grips with this kind of behavior. According to some commentators this is not deliberate because some members of the current government (like those of the previous government) have been accused of benefitting from financial misappropriation that occurred under previous governments.
Further, there have been new allegations (like this made recently against former president Joyce Banda – which Banda has denied), all of which will further complicate the current investigations, especially since some who stand accused are dismissing these allegations as no more than politically motivated mudslinging. In addition, the fact that some witnesses have failed to appear before the courts, and that some evidence has gone missing, been stolen, or burnt down with buildings, will also slows down the judicial processes…
Finally, and to make matters worse, the length of sentences given to those who have been convicted over fraud and corruption have been criticised as being too lenient (VOA), and not sufficiently hefty to pose a real deterrent – meaning these scandals will continue happening. Some legal experts claim that the fault is with the laws of Malawi in this area – which, according to them, are archaic and in need of updating.