Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has fired Labour Minister Ken Kandodo, and fourteen other state officers including senior officials, over misuse of Covid-19 funds.
President Chakwera affirmed that the officers had been arrested, adding that an audit had been commissioned into how 6.2 billion Malawian kwacha ($7.95 million) meant for the country’s coronavirus response had been spent. He was speaking in a televised address where he revealed that the government found out that the funds had vanished, been misused, and left idle.
“As I speak, over a dozen individuals suspected of committing the crimes exposed by this audit report have been arrested, including an arrest at the office of the president and cabinet,” Chakwera said
“There are no sacred cows. If the finger of evidence points to you… you are going to prison.”
Minister Kandodo is alleged to have used 613,000-kwacha worth of COVID-19 funds for a foreign trip and repaid the money later. However, President Chakwera was not pleased and said that even though he had repaid the money, the funds were unavailable for their intended purpose when needed. In an interview with Reuters, Kandodo is reported as saying that he was shocked by the President’s decision.
Meanwhile, President Chakwera has promised his state officials more arrests, should they get involved in corrupt deals. He added that civil servants caught misusing government funds will be forced to repay the funds. He also said that he would commission more audits into coronavirus-related spending and infrastructure projects.
Malawi’s police reported a total of 14 arrests including an immigration official and 10 individuals working at district councils. The suspects will be charged with various crimes including theft as public servants.
Chakwera, just like Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, has fought tooth and nail against corruption in his country. President Kenyatta is the first Kenyan President to send home top government officials in the fight against graft. His peer Chakwera has also been touted as living up to his anti-graft manifesto since he took office in June last year.