Joint CSOs engages Defense Minister on arms deal

By Vincent Gunde

The Joint Civil Society Organizations delegations meeting Defense Minister Harry Mkandawire, has expressed concerns about alleged intimidation of whistleblowers Gregory Gondwe and Mercy Matonga regarding the expose of arms deal in the Malawi Defense Force (MDF).

The delegation says the Ministry of Defense has assured them that there have been no attempts to intimidate whistleblowers saying the Ministry affirmed its commitment to following the rule of law in case of the need to investigate how whistleblowers accessed confidential information.

Harry Mkandawire ,Defence Minister

It has recommended that the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) suspends the initiated payment of US$4,983,400 until government clarifies the identified inconsistencies in the arms deal such as the validity of the payment without a valid contract.

In a statement dated 2nd February, 2024 signed by Youth and Society (YAS) Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka on behalf of 15 organizations, the delegation has demanded an explanation from the government’s assertion of the old contract and the delay between the alleged termination in 2021 observing that all these, raises questions.

The CSOs say they remain dedicated to continued dialogue in pursuit of a collective resolution that fosters public trust, good governance, and the best interests of taxpayers saying the recommendations are essential steps toward ensuring transparency, legality, and the safeguarding of national interests in this arms deal.

The organizations say the Ministry of Defense stated that there is no new contract between the government and the International Armored Group (IAG) saying the existing 2020 contract with Malachitte remains in effect.

The CSOs say as a matter of national interest, they have urged government to address the nation on the arms deal, providing clear and comprehensive information to the public without compromising on security protocols.

“The joint Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) delegation reiterate its commitment to closely monitor this matter and demands accountability from the government of the contract with Malachitte,” reads the statement in part.

And writing on his face book page, Minister of Defense Harry Mkandawire, has assured the CSOs delegation of the Ministry’s highest support, and free civil space in course of discharging their duties by agreeing to work together for the benefit of the beautiful beloved nation.

“We discussed matters of national importance that helped to clear a lot of misconception, and misinformation that has potential to damage the country’s reputation, Malawi will never be the same with the leadership we have in this nation,” reads Mkandawire’s writing on the wall.

©Malawi Online News