Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has once again trashed the recent report conducted by Central Internal Audit Unit exposing dubious deals at the electoral body that left money amounting to MK1.6 billion an accounted for.

The reports which covers a period of July 2012/14 indicates that MEC paid K5 million duty on two vehicles sold to its chairman, Justice Maxon Mbendera and chief elections officer Willie Kalonga, a move auditors described as an act of management fraud.

But reacting to the report for the second time, MEC Chairperson Maxon Mbendera said the report did not incorporate responses from the Commission.

“On 14 August 2015 the MEC brought it to the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury on the omission and requested for the report to be revised. It was amazement to MEC to get a letter from the Secretary to the Treasury six weeks later on 28 September, 2015 with the same report as a final version with an urge to the Commission to take action.

“The MEC Chairman was compelled to seek an audience with the Chief Secretary to the Government and it was agreed that the audit report should be revised to include responses from MEC. This has also been communicated to the Secretary to the Treasury and it is the direction being pursued now,” said Mbendera.

Mbendera said it is worrisome that the leaked report has generated wide media coverage and public interest.
“The Commission took a stand not to defend itself on material detail of the audit report with the impression that the final audit report will serve the purpose,” he said.

Mbendera also revealed that stakeholders have been calling on the Commission to come out on the issue and give to the public its responses on the audit queries.

“During a meeting with the board of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) on November 12, 2015 and the National Elections Consultative Forum (NECOF) on November 13, 2015 members opined that the Commission should address the information gap created by leakage of the draft and delay in finalising the report.

In view of that the Commission has been compelled to avail to the public its documents and records that constitute its responses to the issues raised in the draft audit report.

The compendium is available for download at www.mec.org.mw and on SCRIBD at https://www.scribd.com/doc/291109661/MEC-Response-to- Investigative-Audit-by-Ministry-of-Finance The call that an action should be taken basing on the audit findings has put the Commission in an awkward situation,” he added.

Mbendera said the Commission cannot request the people mentioned to refund the allowances they got when there is full evidence that they did travel.
“The same applies to all other cases. All caution should be exercised to avoid victimising innocent persons who can be exonerated by the final audit report. It should be stated that the Commission is ready to take any appropriate action and shield no one if a credible and thorough audit exercise substantiates financial mismanagement.

“The Commission is committed to financial prudence in line with all public regulations and international standards. That is why, apart from being audited by the Auditor General, it is also audited by private auditors,” said Mbendera.

He further said the Commission has also undertaken several initiatives to improve corporate governance and risk management by among others establishing a fully staffed Internal Audit Department and an Audit Committee of the Commission.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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