Blantyre - A Malawian minister on Thursday criticised
Western donors for withholding aid worth $150m after the government exposed
corruption, saying it could prompt other African leaders to stop fighting graft
fearing they will lose funds.
"The government does not understand the decision taken
by donors to withhold support because the [Malawi President] Joyce Banda
administration has exposed fraud and corruption in the civil service,"
Information Minister Brown Mpinganjira said at a ceremony to launch a community
radio station for the main Protestant church in Malawi.
"Instead of people supporting the president for
exposing corruption, they are busy withholding support. With this do you see
some African leaders exposing corruption in their countries?" he asked.
His comments were the first official reaction to Western
donors shutting down aid. Malawi depends on donors to bankroll up to 40 percent
of its development budget.
Mpinganjira, a veteran politician and unsuccessful
presidential candidate in 2004, said: "This could have been a time when
all well-wishers could come forward and support president Banda since she had
thrown a first stone."
Donors under the Common Approach to Budgetary Support (CABS)
have said they will not disburse pledged aid until February after an
International Monetary Fund review. They have also warned that the next aid
tranche depends on government efforts to fight the rampant corruption.
"We will not be able to resume support through government
systems until we have a clear assurance, independently verified, that our
resources are all being used for their intended purpose," said Sara
Sanyahumbi, a British diplomat who heads the donor grouping which includes
European countries, the European Union and the World Bank.
Malawi has been rocked by widespread corruption, losing
millions of funds to theft by mostly civil servants which the government blames
on financial loopholes.
Donors have called on the poor nation to act swiftly on the
plunder of public resources, known as Capital Hill Cashgate scandal.
Vice President Khumbo Kachali has said loopholes in the
state's payment system have seen state workers "siphoning huge sums of
money using private companies with no contracts with government".