Joyce Banda wary over ACB ‘supersonic’ speed to charge ex-leader

Press Officer during Joyce Banda’s tenure as President, Tusekele Mwanyongo, has said the indication by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) that it is ready to pounce on Banda on corruption charges if there will be claims against her, smack of fast-track political witch-hunting.

Banda’s administration was hit by K61 billion corruption scandal, dubbed ‘Cashgate’, after large amounts of cash were discovered to have stolen by a racket involving senior public officers, businessmen and banks.

ACB director Justice Renzine Nzikamanda was quoted in Malawi News on Saturday that the bureau was ready to indict Banda relying on whistle-blower.

Banda wary move to indict her

Banda wary move to indict her

He said ACB has a preceded already in prosecuting a former Head of State in corruption charges, citing Bakili Muluzi who governed Malawi from 1994 to 2004 and his case is still dragging nine years on.

Reacting, to ACB interest to charge Banda, Mwanyongo told Nyasa Times that “it is disheartening” that proclamations of such arrests are coming after one week after the new President is sworn-in.

“It is disheartening not that one may be attempting to run away from the law but that the ‘supersonic’ speed with which the ACB has engaged to indict the former Head of State smacks of political witch-hunting, to say the least,” Mwanyongo told Nyasa Times.

He added: “Not to dwell much on the merits and demerits; the political undertones; and public interest regarding ACB’s plans to indict the former Head of State, Malawians will also be more than keen to know the truth about the K92 bn of public funds a government instituted audit found had allegedly disappeared in half of all the ministries before Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda became President in April 2012. “

He said Malawians will also be keen to see some progress on many outstanding corruption and theft cases, including the concession of the Nyika-Vwaza Marsh Ecotourism Reserve and the education scam both involving a former Information Minister – Patricia Kaliati – during the previous DPP government and the fertilizer scam involving Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe under the previous DPP government, among others.

Mwanyongo, nonetheless, said it is “most encouraging” that President Peter Mutharika has said he shall not condone any abuse of public resources, including acts of corruption.

The President has also assured the nation that his Government shall conclusively pursue all ‘cashgate’ cases as commenced under the leadership of Banda.

“This is the way to go if Malawi will have to win back the confidence of our major international cooperating partners and donors,” pointed out Mwanyongo.

Mutharika has also pledged to ensure independence of the police, ACB and Directorate of Public Prosecutions, in the ongoing investigations of the plunder of public resources.

President Mutharika promised to prosecute all those involved in the Capital Hill looting, saying “Cashgate was a very, very serious problem. I think our country had lost its moral compass. I think things like Cashgate happen when our leaders fail to differentiate between right and wrong.”

The scandal led to donors cutting aid. Malawi is heavily dependent on aid, which provides 40% of the government’s budget.

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