It ‘s now done deal, prosecution has sealed a deal with Cashgate convict Oswald Lutepo, to testify against former president Joyce Banda and implicate in the K24 billion plunder of the public resources in return get amnesty.
Lutepo recently changed his plea to guilty in the K4 billion fraud and money laundering charges and was convicted by High Court in Zomba and now is in custody awaiting sentence.
His change of plea is reported to be part of the deal to be turned as a State witness to testify against the former president.
Lutepo’s lawyer Oswald Mtupila and Ministry of Justice spokesperson Apoche Itimu confirmed the meetings between the chief cashgate convict with he office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB.
“We met and discussed some issues. The ACB also took a caution statement from my client, but I am not in a position to divulge the details,” said Mtupila as quoted by Nation on Sunda.
The paper reported that Lutepo agreed to testify against Banda, but the office of the DPP had been expressing reservations on the move due to concerns about the credibility of Lutepo as a witness.
Before his conviction, Lutepo had on one occasion written the Attorney General to withdraw earlier caution statements on Cashgate, claiming he was forced to implicate others.
The former Head of State in an interview with Mail and Guardian from Johannesburg, South Africa recently claimed Lutepo was used by some desperate quarters to implicate her in the ‘cashgate’ scandal.
“ Mr. [Oswald] Lutepo was indeed a member of People’s Party and he was only six months in our party (after defecting from Democratic Progressive Party) when the Cashgate scandal was uncovered … When it was clear that he was the main suspect after the first group was arrested, my government instituted an international search and extradited him from China.
“The statement that he gave when he came back has been changed four times. … In fact, I have evidence that he was forced to implicate me, or his wife will be arrested,” Banda told M&G.
Banda said following that statement on the radio by Lutepo, there was an announcement by government spokesperson Kondwani Nankhumwa that they had CCTV [closed-circuit TV] footage showing Banda and Lutepo conniving to swindle government.
“If you recall I established a commission of inquiry to investigate and find out how our former president [Bingu wa Mutharika] died in State House. That’s how we first discovered that there no way we could see it because the CCTV camera in the State House wasn’t working. So for two years that we were in State House, we didn’t have any CCTV that was working. So I don’t know where this footage came from,” said Banda.
Quizzed on what she thinks is the reason to implicate her in the Cashgate scandal, Banda said she was warned by her advisers to expect “abuse” because she was fighting “powerful people and they will fight you back and they will not stand there.”
She said: “They warned me that they [would] bring me down … its part of the deal of being a leader who truly stands for the people.”
Mail& Guardian asked her if she is not afraid that the ‘powerful people’ will succeed on their plan.
The former president said: “ I’m not worried. Even if they do, Malawians now are very intelligent people; they can see through whatever is going on and they know the truth. They know that I served them well.”
Lutepo is regarded a chief cashgate suspect and has been making media confession on his wrong doing.
A forensic audit report into the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill due to abuse of public finance management tools dubbed ‘Cashgate’ established that K24 billion was stolen between April and September 2013. However, Cashgate dates back to 2005 when the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis) was launched.
Through various means, Lutepo allegedly got the second highest payments on the list of individuals amounting to K4.4 billion (US$9.8 million).
“Cashgate” erupted after an audit ordered by former president Banda found that $30 million in state funds had been looted by officials in less than six months last year. It is reported that cashgate started in 1995 and there have been calls to audit K92 billion which was looted within that period. Most culprits in the K92 billion looting also feature in the cashgate currently being pursued through courts.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :