President Lazarus Chakwera has declared war on criminals who steal public funds, saying there is no place on earth where the thieves will hide.
Speaking during a national address on Sunday, Chakwera expressed concern over the plunder of million in Covid-19 funds.
He said the audit conducted by the National Audit Office (NAO) has exposed the lies of those in the public service who he said have mastered the art of stealing public funds and covering their tracks through inaccurate reports.
He then declared war on the criminal enterprise in the government machinery saying he will fight until until it is defeated.
“I can assure you, that there is no place on earth where these criminals will hide. The outrage and anguish you all feel from reading this report is also one that I personally feel.
“I warn all of the thieves hiding in the civil service, if the finger points to you as one of the thieves that stole Covid-19 money, you are going to prison and we will use relevant laws to ensure that you pay back what you stole,” said Chakwera.
He added that his administration will conduct similar audits into other funds spend on Covid-19 during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration and other public funds spent by public institutions.
“As a case in point, the infrastructure projects that my administration is constructing across the country will also be subject to audits to catch those who use such projects to steal,” said Chakwera.
The audit report on K6.2 billion shows that K80 million was lost through irregular payment of allowances, K83 million was stolen after being withdrawn from accounts, K24 million which was unbudgeted for was wastefully and dubiously spent while K423 million was spent on procurement of items even though necessary procurement procedures were not followed.
On Sunday, Malawi Police arrested 19 people including public officers in connection to the theft of public funds.
Chakwera said the officers on whose watch financial mismanagement occurred and those named in the report should be interdicted without pay. He has also directed Secretary to the Office of President and Cabinet to ensure that disciplinary proceedings are instituted against such officers.