Malawi’s Director of Public Prosecutions said he has a blank check to pursue officials implicated in the so-called ‘cashgate’ scandal in which millions of dollars are missing from government accounts.
Last week Bruno Kalemba arrested Treza Namathanga Senzani, the principal secretary in the ministry of tourism, on charges of embezzling $15 million by contracting with a phony service provider.
‘No one is above the law. If there are others as senior as she is or even above, if their names come up, we are also going to carry out their arrests and investigate them,’ Kalemba said.
Malawi ranks 88 on the corruption perceptions index, tied with Morocco, Suriname, Swaziland, Thailand, and Zambia. The landlocked East Africa country is about the size of Pennsylvania, with a population of 16 million.
Joyce Banda, pictured above, took over as president in April 2012 after the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. She’s the country’s first female head of state, and she’s not backing down in her showdown with crooked pols.
Last week, Banda fired her entire cabinet after she learned of flaws in the online payment system for government contracts. The payment system, in place since 2006, has led to abuses and massive government losses.
“The investigation agencies in the country, the prosecution agencies in the country have been given a blank check to deal with this matter as far as we possibly can. We have in fact enlisted assistance from our donor partners to bring us expertise in areas where we are lacking,’ prosecutor Kalemba said.
He said the fight against corruption in Africa is not a lost cause.
‘It (corruption) is beatable. It is the commitment that is sometimes lacking. But in this particular case the commitment is there. The political commitment is there, so we do not anticipate that there will be any sacred cows in this investigation,’ Kalemba said.
— With reporting from voanews.com
Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.