Malawi Fires Minister, Arrests 14 Officials Over COVID Funds Corruption
The president of Malawi Lazarus Chakwera fired the labour minister and 14 people officials were arrested over misuse of COVID-19 funds.
In a televised address, Chakwera said he had commissioned an audit into how 6.2 billion Malawian kwacha ($7.95 million) intended for the country’s coronavirus response programme had been spent, resulting in the revelations of abuse of funds.
He said in the address:
“As I speak, over a dozen individuals suspected of committing the crimes exposed by this audit report have just been arrested by the Malawi Police Service. There are no sacred cows. There will be more arrests. If the finger of evidence points to you… you are going to prison.
…As for the minister of labor, who was named by the audit report as having spent COVID-19 funds amounting to 613,000 Malawi Kwacha on his allowances for a foreign trip, I have dropped him from my cabinet accordingly.
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Even though the minister has since returned the money, his usage of the funds means that the money was unavailable for its intended purpose when it was needed most. I cannot have in my cabinet any individuals who spend money budgeted for one thing on something else.”
The sacked Labour Minister Ken Kandodo told Reuters that he was shocked by the decision.
In Zimbabwe, the then Health Minister Dr. Obadiah Moyo was fired in July 2020 over alleged involvement in the $60 million COVID-19 scandal. The scandal roped in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s family. While Moyo and a business leader (Delish Nguwaya) were arrested, they were both released on bail soon after, in a phenomenon Zimbabweans have come to refer to as “Catch and Release”.
One journalist that exposed the corruption in Zimbabwe, Hopewell Chin’ono, however, was arrested over unclear charges and spent at least 40 days in prison and has been repeatedly arrested over other matters in what is suspected to an attempt to silence him.