MALAWI has fired 68 public servants for embezzling $2 million in public funds as the country tries to crack down on corruption that has resulted in donors withdrawing support.
Employees at the agricultural ministry have been accused of running a scheme of inflated salaries or payments for non-existent workers between 2012 and 2014.
‘Sixty-eight officers have been dismissed and their cases referred to the attorney-general for prosecution,’ Osborne Tsoka, the ministry’s spokesperson, said in a statement.
A probe showed most of the money was stolen by accounts personnel at the ministry’s headquarters in Lilongwe and at research stations.
Malawi’s 180,000 public servants earn an average of about $100 a month, and corruption is widespread in the public sector.
In 2013, several high-ranking officials were implicated in the ‘cashgate’ scandal, when millions of dollars were stolen from government coffers.
International donors pulled the plug on aid of about $150 million after it was disclosed that at least $30m was stolen over one six-month period scrutinised by auditors. Scores of public servants, politicians and business people implicated in ‘cashgate’ are facing criminal charges, though only four have been convicted.