Malawi’s prisons have the poorest conditions in the world, but according to the latest revelations, the inmates use the most expensive cutlery which is also rarely used as they only use them for a meal a day. PIJ Reports
In contrast, therefore, they cannot match the conditions of detention centre at Guantanamo Bay which burns through some US$900 000 per prisoner annually making it the most expensive prison on Earth.
The wealthiness of Malawi’s prison is however only on paper as corruption in Malawi heightened during the regime of ousted Peter Mutharika in June polls that ushered in a new government indicates that poor conditions remain on the ground, despite showing that it has the most expensive materials used by inmates and prison officials.
Malawi’s ministry of Homeland Security, therefore, becomes the latest to be embroiled in yet another corruption scam where MWK9.7 billion was siphoned from the Prison Department from January this year through dubious purchase of various materials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) purportedly used in the prison department.
In the documents that PIJ has in its possession captured in the imports trail of MRA customs, values on prices of materials were overpriced as a legit means of siphoning funds from government.
Contract and MRA clearance documents that PIJ has seen shows huge sums of money were paid for fewer value goods such as steel plates, cups, underwears, slippers, neckties, whistles, cuffs, blankets, socks, vests, and belts through shocking overpricing where the ministry of Homeland Security spent US$13 million (about MWK 9.7 billion) in 4 months between February 2019 and June 2020.
Invoice OMGW0420 indicates that a consignment of 525 cartons with a total quantity of 30, 000 in set of plates bowls, and mugs as one package cost US$110, 000 (equivalent to MWK 81, 825 each item).
Our calculation of this transaction shows that about USD 3, 200, 00 (MWK 2.3 billion) of taxpayers’ money was lost through this dubious transaction.
Apart from overpricing of items, all 8 contracts were awarded to one supplier One Guard FZE from the United Arab Emirates whose physical contacts cannot be traced and do not exist.
In the documents, contract HA/2/125/SEP/2019 invoice number OGMW0420 to supply steel plates, cups Prison paid USD 3, 300,000 (MK 2.5 billion), contract HA/2/125/SEP/2019 invoice number OMGW0320 whose supplies include slippers, neckties, whistles.
Buckles and blankets cost USD 732, 000 (MK 549, 000, 000), and contract HA/2/125/SEP/2019 invoice number OGMW1220 whose supplies include pullovers, cuffs, vests, caps, and underwears cost USD 3, 324, 100 (MWK 2.4 billion).
When asked to comment on the matter Malawi Prison Spokesperson Chimwemwe Shaba said the materials were centrally procured by the Ministry of Homeland security and that the Department of Prison only was the recipient of the items.
Commenting on the matter, Executive Director of Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Willy Kambwandira described the matter as so enraging and as mis-procurement of unnerving levels.
“We need some serious forensic audit in all government ministries, departments, and agencies for the last 10 years. There is a lot of rubble that needs draining. It is very unfortunate that this occurred at a time when even prison warders are sleeping in slums, and Malawians are dying of hunger and lack of drugs in hospitals,” said Kambwandira.
He has since asked ACB should swiftly act on these revelations, and that public officers involved should be held accountable. We also take this opportunity to mobilize Malawians from across the country to join the Wear Red Mask campaign so that justice and accountability is served on Malawians and that there is speedy trial on suspected looters.
A prison warder who asked for anonymity said it is sad that congestion in prisons continues to rise in as the facilities keep almost triple the recommended capacity of inmates, which the corrupt system took advantage of.
Prisoners’ Rights Activist Victor Mhango said with this money a whole new prison would have been built.
“The revelation has shown why the department has been struggling in feeding the prisoners,” said Mhango, founder and leader of the Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA).