The Ministry of Affairs and International Cooperation on Monday launched a new Malawi Foreign Policy aimed at advancing Malawi’s national interests and responding to emerging issues globally.
During the event at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe held under theme of “Catalysts for sustainable development”, the ministry also launched the Malawi Diaspora Engagement policy and Diaspora Portal.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Emmanuel Fabiano said the focus of the Foreign Policy has been shifting over time to correspond with the changing socio-economic and political landscape.
He said the new policy has taken into consideration emerging issues, including terrorism, climate change and economic inequalities in our societies.
According to Fabiano, the current Foreign Policy will inform, guide and strengthen the conduct of Malawi’s foreign relations, while protecting national interests and facilitating the creation of favourable conditions for the sustainable economic development of the country.
“The Malawi Foreign Policy has put forward five (5) priority areas to advance Malawi’s national interests and respond to new emerging issues globally, namely: Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity; Sustainable Development; Peace and Security; Democratic Governance and Human Rights; Environmental Management and Climate Change,” Fabiano said.
During the event, the ministry also launched the first ever Malawi Diaspora Engagement Policy which will enable government to use economic opportunities from members of the Malawi Diaspora to benefit mother Malawi.
“Malawians living outside this country will also be able to know what is happening in in this country things to do with funds, developmental activities and among others” he explained.
A Diaspora Portal, an online facility that aims at promoting dialogue and action on economic development, was also launched.
Government hopes it will allow Malawians in diaspora to be connected to the homeland and access correct information and receive assistance with ease.
“Let me encourage all Malawian Diaspora who are ready to engage with their motherland to register. This process will complement the Diaspora Mapping and Profiling Exercise which the Ministry will start implementing soon,” he said.
In her remarks, United States of America Ambassador Virginia Palmer commended Malawi for the policies saying they will facilitate sustainable development.
Palmer noted that it could have been better if Malawi came up with the policies 15 years ago to promote economic status of this country.
She therefore commended the country for establishing means of communication such as websites and social media accounts to act as platforms of accessing the information.
The Escom plunder:
1) Between 2016 and 2017, ESCOM procured meter boxes from Reliance Trading Company but the meters could not fit in some of those meter boxes. The specification was co-signed by Mr. Peter Mtonda (former Director of Distribution and Customer Services) and Mr. Lyton Moyo (Distribution Manager) in the presence and in the office of Mr. Fanuel Nkhono (former Director of Procurement) thereby committing ESCOM to pay for the meter boxes. It was reported that at the time of inspection, ESCOM’s Mr. Peter Bobo who was supposed to keep samples of the approved meter boxes acted unprofessionally on this transaction by failing to locate the sample that was approved during contract negotiation.
The Task Team also established that most of the overprocurement and misprocurement are done outside the approved procurement budget and plan, which renders the procurement budget and plan redundant. For example, tender reference number ESC 198 was issued at a contract value of K13 billion against a budget of K5 billion, rendering K8 billion procurements above budget and by extension, excess supply of materials.
The Task Team further established that the procurement planning may be wanting because of the functional location of Procurement directorate. Specifically, the elevation of procurement function from Planning directorate into a standalone directorate resulted in separation of ESCOM’s operational planning from Procurement planning yet most of the procurements are basically of materials for technical operations.
(2) By-Passing of the Office of the CEO in the Signing of Contracts:
All contracts are supposed to be signed by the CEO. However, it was established through an external audit that some procurement contracts which the former Director of Finance refused to pay for had by-passed the CEO’s (Mr. John Kandulu) office. The Director of Finance eventually resigned. The contract was unilaterally signed by the former Director of Procurement, Mr. Fanuel Nkhono.
The Task Team established that this has improved such that the contracts are going through the office of the current CEO (Dr. Allexon Chiwaya). However, even where the process goes through the CEO, Dr. Chiwaya was found to have co-signed one of the procurement contracts of materials that were adequately stocked, a transaction that had also by-passed the Internal Procurement Committee as alluded to under paragraph 3.1.2(i) of this report.
(3) Lack of an Automatically Triggered Re-Order System :
Ideally, a procuring entity like ESCOM should have a system that automatically triggers itself when stocks have reached a certain level, which should be designated as a re-order level depending on movement of the respective material. However, the Task Team established that ESCOM does not have such a system. Instead, all re-order decisions are based on human judgment. Probably this is why ESCOM re-orders materials that are already adequately stocked and remains low on other equally critical materials.
(4) Over-Procurement of Materials:
The Task Team noted that ESCOM was procuring larger quantities of materials than it would need.
For example, ESCOM overprocured envelopes to the extent that it had no room to keep them and the envelopes are reportedly still in stock up to now. The Task Team also found that the Procurement directorate, under Mr. Fanuel Nkhono, together with the Distribution directorate, under Mr. Peter Mtonda, were responsible for the specific over-procurement of materials which external auditors captured in their report that they were actually slow moving items and would take more than eight (8) years for ESCOM to consume, assuming there was no change in technology. The overprocurement was through procurement number ESC 136.
Overprocured Meters – Procurement of Meters (ESC 136)
This was a combination of single phase and three phase meters. The quantification was done by Distribution – Metering Section at 30,000 meters which was to be split into two orders of 20,000 meters and 10,000 meters. The Task Team learnt that the requisitions were done by Mr. Joe Zisiyana (Acting Chief Internal Auditor – Technical) and authorized by Mr. Mtonda for the first meter order and Mr. David Mbewe (Regional Manager – South, (now retired) for the remainder. When an investigation into the misprocurement was instituted, the file for the second procurement of 10,000 meters went missing though records in the archive would show who really requisitioned for these meters.
This problem is reportedly still existing in the Procurement directorate and has led to other procurement challenges. It came to the attention of the Task Team that the Stores Section was still receiving deliveries of materials which were adequately stocked or the users said they did not need or denied making a requisition of the materials or the quantities or both.
(5) Procurement of Materials that Had Been Rejected During Inspection
The Stores Section reported receiving supplies of materials that had been rejected, meaning that their procurement had gone ahead despite the rejections. These were the materials which could never be used and ended up building up the inventories figure. An example is the meter boxes by Reliance Trading Company.
(6) Possible Hoodwinking of the Office of the Director of Public Procurement:
The Task Team learnt that Mr. Nkhono was able to influence the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP), as it was called then. In the interviews with Mr. Emilius Kandapo, it was alleged that in some instances, the ODPP approval could be granted right in Mr. Nkhono’s office and sometimes before IPC had made a decision on a procurement. He further stated that it was mostly Mr. Mphinga and Mr. Edward Jeke from ODPP who came to meet Mr. Nkhono.
Mr. Nkhono informed the Task Team that he at times invited officers from ODPP to ESCOM offices to discuss procurement matters. In the interviews with Mr. Jeke and Mr. Mphinga, Mr. Nkhono’s position was collaborated. The Task Team had no basis to support the allegations with respect to hoodwinking of the ODPP officials but notes with concern the opportunity that gave rise to these perceptions which were encouraged by the nature of interaction between the offices.
The Task Team further established that some procurements include procurement of LED bulbs through two tenders, one of which was budgeted for and while the other one was not.
i really agree
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