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» 01.06.2010 - Malawi gays released after pardon
» 19.02.2010 - Japan extends green aid to Malawi
» 01.02.2010 - Malawi takes over AU’s presidency
» 20.11.2009 - Malawi’s rural land development project gets additional funding
» 30.10.2009 - Malawi president receives 2009 Drivers of Change Award
» 23.10.2009 - Malawi signs $60 million road project funding with AfDB
» 20.07.2009 - Malawi's opposition petition thrown out of court
» 05.06.2009 - Epic rescue for endangered elephants in Malawi resumes

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Politics | Society

Malawi ministers in "fake certificates" row

afrol News / The Chronicle, 25 October - Eight Ministers in Malawi's government have been accused of presenting fake certificates and are listed in a letter being circulated in offices in Lilongwe. The Minister now dispel the claims, saying it is a political ploy, championed by the UDF opposition, aimed at tarnishing President Bingu wa Mutharika's government.

The document alleges that at least eight ministers presented fake certificates to the President when he appointed them. When the story broke of a possibility of fraud on the part of Mr Mutharika's cabinet colleagues the government, on instruction from above removed the CVs from the official website. The government website received a record number of hits after members of the public decided they would examine and scrutinise the authenticity of those questioned.

The Malawian ministers reportedly not having MSCE - a certificate that indicates a person has completed secondary education up to Form Four - are deputy Education Minister Roy Comsy, deputy Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Khumbo Kachali, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Uladi Mussa, and deputy Transport and Public Works Minister Charles Mchacha.

Others that the letter says do not have MSCE include Information and Tourism Minister Patricia Kaliati, Foreign Affairs Minister Joyce Banda, Rashid Gaffar Deputy Industry, Trade and Private Sector Development Minister, and Deputy Labour Minister Dave Ngulinga.

Publicity Secretary Sam Mpasu of the former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) party, when approached said, except for the two lady ministers included on the list that have the necessary educational documentation, they have proof that the rest of the ministers have dubious qualifications.

"We wrote an official letter through our lawyer Mayer Chisinga to Malawi National Examination Board (MANEB), demanding that all of these mentioned except for Joyce Banda and Patricia Kaliati do not have qualifications they claim to have and must be investigated," Mr Mpasu told 'The Chronicle'.

Mr Mpasu challenged that if this information as submitted is incorrect, the concerned ministers can take any action. UDF would stand by it. "Rashid Gaffar does not have the correct certificate and his proficient test was written for him by a person from his constituency. Kachali is a disaster," said Mr Mpasu.

He said UDF has three considerations on the matter, which are not meant to be seen as if they are against President Mutharika but to put the record straight. "Here are ministers who managed to deceive their President that they have merit in Malawi and cheated their way into the cabinet," he said.

Mr Mpasu said the second consideration is on the grounds of the rule of law; "How can the President have law-breakers in his cabinet when they should be in jail," he said.

He said the third consideration is on the President's own reputation which is at stake since it portrays that he is using the judiciary to his favour. "Why should the law be selective? If it is Lucius Banda he must be imprisoned but when it is others they should be in the cabinet?" Mr Mpasu said. Mr Banda is a Malawian musician-turned-politician of the UDF, who in August was sentenced to 21 months in jail with hard labour for faking his academic qualifications.

Mr Kachali, Mr Comsy and Mr Mussa dismissed all this as UDF propaganda, which they said the media was not even supposed to entertain. They further invited 'The Chronicle' to go to their respective offices to check their certificates.

Mr Kachali ordered 'The Chronicle' to get hold of Phwezi Secondary School and compare the details there with those on the MSCE he is holding. "This is political propaganda that is not strange to me. I faced this same propaganda in 1994 and 2003. But all those detractors that thought they could use this to destroy me failed to achieve their malicious intentions," he contended.

He said the fact of the matter is that he sat for MSCE and passed. He challenged anyone to check with his school whether his name is, or is not on the list of those that sat for and passed MSCE in 1988 exams. "If we check with Phwezi then we will end all the speculation about my MSCE qualification," he said.

Mr Kachali warned that he once sued the opposition party Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) for the same issue and it took the party President, late Chakufwa Chihana and others to plead with him not to pursue the matter.

When contacted, Uladi Mussa challenged 'The Chronicle' to go ahead and publish the story as he was ready to seek legal redress. "I will sue you, the paper and all those involved. I went to Salima Secondary School where I sat my MSCE and passed," he charged. "I went to Domasi Teachers College where I obtained my T2 qualification and nobody is given that if he does not have MSCE."

He insisted that he also has an International Certificate in English as well as a certificate in Modern Management and Administration obtained from the UK-based Cambridge. He said anyone who is in doubt could verify this with the North London-based institution.

Mr Comsy said he sat for MSCE at Luchenza Secondary School and not at Thyolo or Chiradzulu as others have alleged in the past. He said he passed his MSCE in 1998 and passed with 36 points, which forced him to go to Kaphuka Private Secondary School to upgrade the points but never succeeded as he was forced by his home people to stand as their Member of Parliament when he went for a vacation. "The first term exams that I sat for before leaving for home for the holiday, I got 12 points," he said.

Mr Comsy said the reason he was amongst those singled out is because he comes from the district where the State President also comes from. "The main target is the President. They are fabricating these stories just to embarrass His Excellency, just to show that he appointed me using the 'homeboy' syndrome," claimed Mr Comsy.

He said all this is the work of UDF; "Some guys in the UDF camp sometimes warn us to look out in the newspapers for fabricated stories and people behind such fabrications. "This is just a reprisal because one of their members is in jail and they are just doing it to dilute the seriousness of the crime that sent Lucius Banda to jail," he said.

Deputy Information Minister and Deputy Government Spokesperson John Francis Bande dismissed the allegation and said it is a product of hopeless people. "These people wanted to have an activity on their plates and they expect government to create it for them. We are refusing to be used by such elements and that is why we are not interested and are quiet," he said.

According to information on the document being circulated, which in the process has reached 'The Chronicle', Mr Comsy allegedly went to Kaphuka Secondary School where he sat his MSCE two times and failed to register any success. Mr Comsy is now said to be parading an MSCE, which shows Chiradzulu secondary school as the examination centre.

It further alleges that Mr Kachali who was at Phwezi Secondary School never sat for examinations as he was involved in a disciplinary matter and was consequently expelled from the school. The document says that Mr Kachali went to Zambia and returned to Malawi to establish a business.

Uladi Mussa is said to have been a basic Madrassah teacher at Chazunda and was fished out of the Madrassah classroom by former President Bakili Muluzi, who wanted to identify a strong Muslim from Salima. "He has never attended any course in international English as indicated, after all what is international English?" queries the write-up adding.

On Minister Joyce Banda, whom the letter ironically alleges that she worked as a typist for current Minister of Women and Children Affairs Kate Kainja at the time she was Education Minister during the Kamuzu Banda regime, never attended a degree in Early Childhood Education, because such a degree does not exist.

The Malawi government removed CVs for cabinet ministers from its official website, and Government Spokesperson Patricia Kaliati said it was for fear of public scrutiny. "People should look for development in the ministers' departments and not their CVs. CVs are for jobs. Do people in the rural areas know CVs?" argued Ms Kaliati.

Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) Chairperson Justin Dzonzi said ministers that gave wrong information about their qualification risk arrest in accordance with section 122 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code. "In the strict sense, they do face arrest but whether they will be prosecuted depends on the political decisions from the powers that be," said Mr Dzonzi who is a lawyer by profession.

But Dean of Law at the University of Malawi's constituent Chancellor College, Necton Mhura contended that there would be no case to answer if ministers alleged to have presented false documents merely declared they had them in their possession without actually presenting the documents to government.

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