Malawi President Fires Minister Over COVID-19 Funds

Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera.PHOTO/NyasaTimes

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera on Sunday fired Labour Minister Ken Kandodo for diverting $800 worth of COVID-19 funds to pay for a government trip, part of a wider embezzlement scandal.

In a televised address to the nation, Chakwera said the minister was named in an audit report as having listed the funds in his allowances for the travel to South Africa.

“I have dropped him from my cabinet accordingly. Even though the minister has since returned the money, his usage of the funds means that the money was unavailable for its intended purpose when it was needed most,” Chakwera said.

“I cannot have in my cabinet any individuals who either spend money budgeted for one thing on something else or do not ask tough questions to ensure that the money they are spending on something was budgeted for that purpose.”

Chakwera also ordered the arrest of scores of civil servants implicated in plundering $7.8 million of COVID-19 funds.

“As I speak, over a dozen individuals suspected of committing the crimes exposed by this audit report have just been arrested by the Malawi Police Service. There are no sacred cows… There will be more arrests,” he said.

Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, has recorded 34,000 cases of COVID-19, with 1,138 deaths, including those of two cabinet ministers.

Its under-resourced public hospitals were overwhelmed at the peak of the pandemic.