Some sectors in Phalombe district have run out of resources following demands by the District Commissioner (DC) Harry Phiri for them to give money to auditors who are in the district to audit all devolved sectors.
Currently the auditors are in their second month while checking and balancing financial records for different offices of the council on government’s directive.
According to sources, the move has left some departments broke as they are now failing to pay service providers who worked for them a couple of months ago.
A source who asked not to be mentioned for fear of reprisal said the actions of the district council have affected his business and he is struggling to even feed his family.
“I worked at the agriculture department early this year but since that time I have not been paid by the department as it has always said it has no enough money to settle my bill; and this month I went to collect my pay but to my surprise I was told that once again they will not be able to pay me as all the money they had has been given to the auditors,” said the source.
Information sourced by Malawi24 shows that on 22nd August this year the District Commissioner convened an emergency meeting with heads of different departments and sectors such as Labour, Fisheries, Irrigation, Health, Youth, Gender, and National Registration Bureau (NRB).
During the meeting, Phiri is said to have ordered the sectors to release some cash meant for the auditors.
It is suspected that the money was used to bribe the auditors so that their reports should be in favour of the council.
A well-placed source who is also head of one of the affected sectors has disclosed that the DC ordered major sectors such as Education, Health, Gender, Labour, Water and Agriculture to each give out MK300, 000 while minor sectors were releasing between MK20, 000 to MK50, 000 each.
When asked to comment, Phalombe District Agriculture Development Officer (DADO) Jackson Mkombezi refused to take questions.
“I can’t talk to you! Go to the one who told you this matter,” Mkombezi said with his hand pointing at us (reporters) as he was going towards the DC’s office.
However, speaking in an exclusive interview with this publication, Phiri said reports that he bribed auditors are rumours and mere speculation.
“Why do you believe in rumours? This isn’t true,” the DC said without providing proof for his claims.
Reacting to the reports, the finance committee of the council through its Chairperson Damson Chiphaka expressed disappointment with what the council’s top bosses have done.
“I know nothing about this matter it is news to me but if such is the case then something has gone wrong here. My worry here is that taxpayers’ money has been misused in order to cover gaps created by members of the council secretariat, and I wonder how such sectors will replace those funds in order to serve our communities well,” said the Mpasa Ward Councillor.
Last month, Malawi24 also published a story about the cashgate which is happening in the district based on a Budget Tracking exercise report that was issued by Civil Society Organisations through Phalombe Youth Arms Organisations.