Malawi: Five People Suspected Of Famous Loot Cashgate Freed

By Joseph Dumbula

The courts in Malawi have let free five suspects involved in the country most famous public looting case, the Cashgate.

Cashgate is a financial scandal involving looting, theft and corruption that happened at  the seat of Government of Malawi which happened during the administration of President Joyce Banda around 2013, though it is believed to have begun prior to her taking office.

But now, the court have let some five suspects free after they have paid MK 136 Million ($132,714.16) which they were accused of stealing from Malawi Government.

The five are Kettie Kamwangala, Fatch Chungano, Cecilia Ng’ambi, Sympathy Chisale and Ndaona Satema.

It is reported that they allegedly stole the money around 2013.

According to Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala said the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the five have rmanaged to sort their dues.

For instance, Kamwangala paid back K16.7 million. The other four, Chungano, Ng’ambi, Chisale and Satema paid back to the government a combined total of K120 million, including interest. After they paid the money, they were discharged from the K2.4 billion case involving former budget director Paul Mphwiyo and others in August last year.

Published reports indicate that by November 2020, the state had secured 22 cashgate convictions out of 94 suspects who had entered trial. The Government had also managed to recover over K200 million, plots houses and vehicles from cashgate convicts.

What is said about the scandal?

The scandal first came to light in September 2013, when an accounts assistant in the Ministry of Environment was found with several thousand dollars (USD) in his car.  A week later, the Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance was shot outside his home, and several other civil servants were found hiding large sums of money.

Following Cashgate’s revelation, the British government sponsored an independent audit into the scandal, focusing on transactions made through Malawi’s electronic financial management system. The first audit – released to the public in February 2014 – demonstrated that 16 Malawian companies received illicit payments from the government between April and September 2013 for goods and services that were not performed.

All told, the audit found that an estimated $32 million (USD) was stolen during the six-month period under review. In October, 2013, more than 70 people were arrested in connection to Cashgate – many of whom were subsequently tried and convicted. President Joyce Banda also fired her entire cabinet.

In November, 2014, after signs that Cashgate-related corruption extended beyond the term of the British government’s audit, the German government initiated another audit to review potential theft dating back to 2009, under then-President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The results of this audit have not yet been revealed. Several donor countries have since suspended foreign aid funding to Malawi as the scandal is deliberated.

Cashgate remains a high-profile political dispute in Malawi. Current President Lazarus Chakwera and his leadership continue to allege Banda’s guilt in the scandal, though there is no evidence supporting this claim. Likewise, Banda and her People’s Party (PP) have long speculated both Mutharikas’ involvement in Cashgate, citing the mysterious murder of the head of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau, a failure to enact financial reforms and suspicious wealth accumulation of high-ranking DPP members.

However, no link between either the former or current President Mutharika and Cashgate has been established.



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