During an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on September 25, President Peter Mutharika of Malawi discussed a range of issues relating to his 15-month tenure as head-of-state and his government’s policies.
In his remarks during the on-the-record session, he criticized his predecessor, Joyce Banda, who was defeated in the 2014 elections. Banda served as vice president under Bingu wa Mutharika, the current president’s brother, who tried to replace her with his younger sibling before he died in office in 2012.
Despite efforts to block her ascendancy, Banda became president on April 7, 2012 and served for two years.
After reading the transcript of the CFR session, which was facilitated by AllAfrica’s Reed Kramer, Banda submitted a response to Mutharika’s remarks, which she said “contained inconsistencies and inaccuracies concerning me”.
- In an attempt to articulate his government’s commitment to fighting corruption and create an enabling environment for political co-existence, the President fell into the usual trap that now defines his presidency. He blamed my previous People’s Party (PP) government for the ills of his government, for ‘Cashgate’ and the current economic turmoil.
President Mutharika failed to acknowledge that I am the first Head of State in Malawi to take bold steps to fight corruption and staunch theft of public resources. I publicly stated that there was a problem of theft and corruption since 2005 when the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) was installed and rallied everyone to jump on board to deal with it once and for all. I personally and aggressively led the fight against theft, fraud and corruption.
When the European Union (EU) Head of Delegation, Alexander Baum, alerted me about loopholes in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), I announced on September 7, 2013 the introduction of measures to seal all IFMIS loopholes to root out theft, fraud and corruption. My government drew up a comprehensive work plan to deal with corruption and plunder of public resources. The plan was subject to regular review by a Cabinet Committee, which was headed by the Minister of Good Governance, Chris Daza.
This work plan was shared with our donors and cooperating partners. My government initiated a forensic audit into Cashgate. I shall forever be grateful to the British Government for its provision of resources to enable us to engage an internationally-renowned audit firm, Baker Tilly, to conduct the forensic audit. The Baker Tilly audit report was released on October 30, 2014. It included the names of the people involved in Cashgate. It is a public document.
In October 2013, when it became apparent that there was looting of public resources, I dissolved my cabinet and removed the ministers who were mentioned in relation to the looting. About 68 businessmen and civil servants were arrested in connection with Cashgate. Some 50 bank accounts connected to Cashgate were frozen.
The Cashgate trials and subsequent convictions taking place now are a result of the arrests that were made during my time as head of state and following the release of the Baker Tilly forensic audit report.
It was during my time as head of state that I we presented to Parliament for passage ‘the Declaration of Assets’ Bill aimed at checking unexplained amassing of personal wealth by public servants.
- President Mutharika’s government has ignored national and international calls to institute a forensic audit into an alleged 577 billion Kwacha ‘Cashgate’ that occurred between 2009 and 2012 before I came into office. Just like the British Government provided financial support for a forensic audit during my time, the German Government has committed money to facilitate a forensic audit by Price Waterhouse into this financial scandal. However, President Mutharika’s government has shown no interest to expedite the audit.
Recently, robbers broke into a German envoy’s house in (city) where documents containing information about the 577 billion Kwacha forensic audit were stolen. In the midst of the outcries, a senior Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) official, Issa Njaunju, was brutally murdered in early July 2015. Since that time, no concrete investigations have been carried out.
His family, the diplomatic community and many Malawians are demanding justice as investigations seem to have stalled. The British High Commissioner recently led a team of ambassadors to meet officials of the ACB to demand an explanation of the apparent lack of interest to hunt down Mr. Njaunju’s killers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :