Leaders of Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) leaders are expressing doubt if a task force instituted by ESCOM to investigate the institutions’ financial mismanagement will come up with tangible recommendations.
The CSOs worry follows the structure of the task force that comprises individuals from government institutions only.
The Board Chairperson for ESCOM Thomson Mpinganjira admitted that the parastatal has a MK50 billion deficit at the moment.
This was in response to allegations that the government took money amounting to MK40 billion from the institution to finance the ruling DPP.
The chair attributed this is due to a number of factors including a lack of proper handovers at the time the institution was being unbundled to form EGENCO, mismanagement of funds and miss procurement of resources.
“There are some errors that were done during the unbundling process but a huge component of the problems we have in ESCOM is to do with mismanagement of funds and miss procurement.”
He further revealed of the task force that has been instituted to investigate the business model of ESCOM and what went wrong for the institution to have such a deficit.
The task force comprises the Secretary to the Treasury, Principal Secretaries for Natural Resources and Energy and Human Resources, the controller of statutory bodies, Chief Executive Officer for the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) and a board member from ESCOM’s board.
The group has been given until end of the month of August this year to report to the Board Chairperson and the Chief Secretary to the government.
The structure of the task force has however raised doubts that it may not operate independently as it is all made up of government institutions.
Although Mpinganjira describes the task force as being a high powered one, activist Billy Mayaya believes there won’t be transparency and accountability.
He believes the body would have been trusted if private investigators were included in the investigation in question.
“I think there has been a continued lack of transparency and accountability at ESCOM. We (CSOs) would have loved to have seen a composition of more broad based network of investigators namely CSOs, members from the private sector so that it is truly independent,” he expressed concern.
On his part, Stevie Simusokwe of the Karonga Youth for Justice and Development believes this is one way of shielding the truth based on previous examples.
He also thinks most of those that are in the taskforce in question their decision are highly influenced by politics.
“It will be very difficult for Malawians to trust them because for the past the government has been instituting those task forces but to no avail, after all, it’s comprised of those siding with the government.” He hammered.