CDEDI suspects foul play on PAC’s cancellation of East Bridge inquiry

mark botomani

Center for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has demanded the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts (PAC) to provide evidence that the committee agreed to cancel its public inquiry into the East Bridge Company.

This comes after an announcement made by the PAC Chairperson Mark
Botoman that his committee had called off the much-awaited public inquiry into the infamous East Bridge fertilizer deal because public funds were not spend on the deal

The withdrawal has sparked a heated debate that has culminated into serious allegations of money exchanging hands.

In a letter that we have seen addressed to Speaker Catherine Gotani-Hara, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa had demanded an explanation from the committee in line with Access To Information (ATI) Act as well as the wording of section 12 subsection 1 (b) of the republican constitution, which states that all legal and political authority derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised to serve and protect their interests.

“We would like to believe that whatever was
discussed during the said meeting was in the best interest of the voters and taxpayers, hence we are not asking for too much,” said Namiwa.

CDEDI has since given the Speaker Catherine Gotani-Hara seven days to do the needful.

Namiwa has also demanded for the release of an audio and minutes as a way of extinguishing the current public suspicion that has been aggravated by the eleventh hour withdrawal of the inquiry.

“CDEDI strongly believes that Malawians have a right to know what really transpired during the two hours meeting prior to the abrupt announcement.

“By making public the requested information, your office will not only demonstrate high
levels of transparency and accountability, but such a gesture will put to rest the debate that
has dominated the public discourse,” he said.

The CDEDI Executive Director has highlighted that it is irrefutable fact that Legislators are representatives of the people on one hand, and
both the committee and plenary meetings of Parliament are public meetings on the other
hand hence the demand for the audio and minutes for the meeting.

Meanwhile, a grouping of some Civil Society Organizations are calling for the resignation of the PAC Chairperson Mark Botoman for sleeping on duty.

But Botoman argues that his committee consulted all the legal instruments before arriving at such a decision.

Still on his part, National Anti-Corruption Alliance Chairperson, Moses Mkandawire told the press in Mzuzu Wednesday on behalf of other non-state actors that by abandoning an inquiry of the Eastbridge Fertilizer deal PAC has failed in its oversight role.

The CSOs have since called for an independent enquiry into PAC’s decision-making processes and also an immediate resignation of Botoman to ensure its effectiveness as well as efficiency.

PAC on Tuesday announced it has dropped an inquiry on the East Bridge Fertilizer company and Ministry of Agriculture deal after finding no proof that public funds were spent on the deal.