Malawi Jails Senior Official Over 'Cashgate' Scandal

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - OCTOBER 8, 2014

In an effort to cleanse its image – and vital Western aid, Malawi has jailed its first senior official for the so-called ‘Cashgate’ affair – arguably the worst corruption and fraud scandal in the country's history.

A court in Lilongwe sentenced former tourism official Treza Senzani to three years' imprisonment with hard labour after she pleaded guilty to stealing US$150 000 from the Malawi government coffers.

About 70 people – mostly government officials, have been arrested over ‘Cashgate’ after an audit revealed that about US$30 million had been skimmed from the government payment system.

It is alleged that businessmen and politicians connived with the civil servants to make payments for goods and services that were never delivered.

This prompted Western donor nations and agencies, which provide 40% of Malawi's budget, to withdraw vital aid worth around US$150 million in reaction to the scandal.

Allegations of the massive looting of government money became public following the shooting of the finance ministry's then budget director Paul Mphwiyo in September 2013.