Hold on Mr. Lutepo, Malawi Cashgate suspect: Muckracking

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” – Albert Einstein

The epistle according to ‘Chief Cashgater’ Oswald Lutepo makes for some interesting reading. This is supposed to be a bomb-shell in what can perhaps pass as the worst financial scandal to rock Malawi in the 50 years the country has been independent.

But I am sorry to say it does not wash with me.

Lutepo’s missive was meant to solicit sympathy from us for sure. He knows he may be in for a very long time if the courts finds him culpable in the over K2 billion ‘cashgate’ case he is answering. He is, therefore, trying to deflect attention from himself.

Lutepo makes some damning allegations against no lesser a personage than the former president Joyce Banda herself. He also takes a dig at DPP Bruno Kalemba, ‘cashgate’ special prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu, former deputy police chief Nelson Bophani and former Justice Minister Fahad Assani.

Lutepo

Lutepo

We may not interrogate some of his allegations for they are legal in nature. Suffice to say, however, that obviously Lutepo is an anxious man. Like I said above, he knows he faces long years behind the bar should the courts find him culpable. He would, therefore, do anything if only to gain public sympathy.

Few things come to mind from Lutepo’s letter. For starters, the letter does not absolve him in any way of any wrong-doing. Actually what the letter does is to confirm his guilt somewhat. Look, if Lutepo knew his business dealings with government were clean and straight why play along in criminal machinations?

In fact, if what he says about Kalemba, Nyasulu, Bophani and Assani were true, it still begs the question: why him? If the quartet wanted to implicate someone and exonerate another they could not have hunted for someone who had no interest in the case.

By the way, we have been on this street before. In the Sithole case, he told investigators the millions in the junior civil servant’s custody, which – by the way kick-started the whole ‘cashgate’ affair – were his. He said he needed that much cash to buy agriculture products.

But he later recanted, claiming it was former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara who forced him to make the claim.

The question is, out of the 13.1 million of us, why is it only him who is always available to make such expensive lies? Now he is saying Kalemba, Nyasulu, Bophani and Assani forced him to implicate the same Kasambara who made him lie in the first place.

I mean, does this make sense to anyone?

At the end of the day, what Lutepo is actually saying is that the quartet knew he had something to do with the massive systematic looting of government resources, so it wanted him to bargain for freedom or a lesser charge.

Besides, even if what he is alleging were to be proved true, he still falls afoul of perjury laws, thus his arrest Sunday week. In his own words, he said he schemed to pervade the course of justice for selfish interests.

By the way, why did the police not arrest him the first time he claimed he lied that the millions in Sithole’s case were his? That is perjury too!

What is most laughable, however, is that Lutepo wants Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, him whose job is to see to it that laws are not only followed but respected, to help him withdraw statements he confirms he criminally made. Kaphale would, for want for a better word, be stupid to play along.

I am glad the good lawyer has called Lutepo his bluff.

Without convicting him in the public court, what Lutepo and his 70-plus brothers and sisters-in-crime are accused of doing has serious consequences for the nation. Already, government is not functioning properly because it is short of money. In fact donors are withholding some US $150 million in budgetary support because of the ‘cashgate’.

And, as we ‘speak’, Finance and Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe is agonising over a ‘zero donor’ budget. Where good ol’ Goodall will source K743 billion for his financial plan from only the devil knows.

So Lutepo must appreciate the seriousness of the crimes he is accused of committing. He should, therefore, not seek cheap sympathy.

Besides, since he is saying he made the serious claims he made under duress, why should we believe him that he is not making these fresh allegations under duress as well? He claimed he lied the first time; how will Kaphale and us all know he is not lying this time around?

Lutepo should concentrate on proving his innocence if he is innocent other than seeking cheap sympathy. He must prove that the K2.6 billion his companies minted from government was legitimate payments for goods and services he rendered to government.

Otherwise, by confirming he lied under oath he knew he had something to hide. He has made damning allegations against people whose reputations and careers may be put into question. He owes it to the nation to prove that Joyce Banda, Bruno Kalemba, Kamudoni Nyasulu and Fahad Assani have criminal minds.

Otherwise he has proven to be a guy who is capable of saying he was forced to claim that he is Oswald Lutepo. He seems to be a guy under constant duress from everyone…including himself. How do we trust such a man?

Lutepo must not waste our time. He made himself a bed made of thorns; he has to lay on it.

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