Malawi’s graft busting body – the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) – has disclosed that it will institute investigations into alleged plunder of public funds in the construction of Mombera University during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.
The DPP government employed hundreds of ghost workers for the nonexistent tertiary education institution, draining billions of taxpayers’ money in the process.
The revelation prompted Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), in its whistleblower role, to lodge a complaint at the bureau on December 1, 2020. In the complaint, HRDC alleged that in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, a total of K2.483 billion was spent on the inexistent university.
The coalition further alleged that K1 billion was spent on the refurbishment of Mzuzu University library where very little work was done.
After reviewing the complaint, ACB referred the matter to the Auditor General to institute in investigative audit into the matter to inform the bureau’s next course of action.
In a letter addressed to HRDC, the bureau says it has received the investigative audit reports from the Auditor General and has completed an analysis on the findings and recommendations therein.
“Based on the analysis, you are informed that the bureau will not continue to conduct further investigations on the issue of the refurbishment of Mzuzu University library in accordance with Section 10 (2) (b) of the Corrupt Practices Act. Further, you are informed that the bureau will proceed with further investigations into the issues surrounding Mombera University,” reads part of the letter ACB Director General Martha Chizuma has addressed to HRDC.
HRDC National Chairperson Gift Trapence expressed delight with the direction ACB has taken to probe the suspected plunder of taxpayers’ money by the former DPP government.
In November 2022, former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Dr. Steven William Kayuni asked the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to launch criminal investigations into alleged fraudulent public funds expenditure on operations of non-existent Mombera University.
In a letter addressed to Inspector General of Police Merlyne Yolamu, which we have seen, Kayuni said the suspected expenses are in billions of kwacha.
In his letter dated November 16 2022, Kayuni expressed disappointment that the government had been budgeting for the operations of the university which was earmarked to be built in Mzimba.
Kayuni wrote: “The university structure is not on the ground. The university is not in existence. There has never been a selection of students to that university. No employees have ever been recruited for the university.
“That notwithstanding over the years budgets have been passed not for purposes of implementing the establishment of the university, but for running an existing university.”
He further said documentation shows that there was procurement of services, vehicles and hiring of staff for the university.
“The government wage bill purportedly showed that payment of salaries to lecturers and staff members included those of famous musicians in the country.
“Expenditure in audit reports points to suppliers of various services such as gardening, landscaping and cleaning services, purported procurement of vehicles and services on the said vehicles. The amount runs into billions of kwacha Madam IG,” the letter, number ADMN/MOMB/15/1, further read the letter.