Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda has been urged to return home and clear herself on the allegations cashgate convicts have been making , to link her as one of the beneficiaries of the ill-gotten wealth, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) have said.
Banda is already scheduled to return home next month, her Peoples Party (PP) confirmed .
The two organisations said in a joint media statement made available to Nyasa Times on Sunday that the state machinery should institute investigations into the recent claims made before the court implicating Banda in cashgate.
“We feel these claims shouldn’t just be taken lightly considering the fact that Malawians are waiting with bated breath to see justice being not only seen to be done but also manifestly done on the infamous cashgate.
“The state shouldn’t be afraid to investigate, and where necessary prosecute, the former head of state merely for fear of being labelled as embarking on political witch-hunt against the former head of state or the Peoples Party. As long as there is credible evidence, the state is obliged to act and ensure that justice is done and seen in the general interest of Malawians,” reads the statement.
The statement was signed by CHRR acting executive director Timothy Mtambo and Cedep executive director Gift Trapence.
The two organisations pointed out that the notion that political power can be a safe haven for impunity would create dangerous double standard and set a bad precedence.
“ It’s important that we all, irrespective of political, social or religious divide, directly participate in the fight against impunity for the crime of cashgate so that those responsible for –whoever they are and wherever they are – can be held accountable for this crime that gravely offend human dignity and human rights,” reads the statement.
CHRR and Cedep have also expressed the need for the state to extend the same zeal and commitment it has shown on the K24 billion cashgate to the alleged K92 billion cashgate under the DPP era from 2005 to 2012.
“There are public concerns, in a case of selective justice, that government has so far not demonstrated any political will in ensuring that the alleged K92 billion cashgate is dealt with once and for all.
“Justice should not only be seen to be done but also manifestly be done on both issues,” the watchdogs said.
However, investigations of cashgate into the Mutharika administration is facing hurdles. Recently, a senior official in the Anti Corurption Bureau (AC) Isaa Njaunju was murdered in the midst of the investigation.
And President Peter Mutharika told national broadcaster that there was no K92 billion cashgate, saying it was only an audit query.
The cashgate scandal, prompted foreign donors — who provide around 40 percent of Malawi’s budget — to pull the plug on aid worth around $150 million, which made up 40% of the national budget.
Meanwhile, CHRR and Cedep said they welcome the recent conviction and sentencing of “chief cashgater” Oswald Lutepo , saying it is a triumph of justice .
“We commend the state, the judiciary and other key stakeholders for remaining steadfast in pursuit of justice on cashgate cases. Despite some earlier growing public concerns of the slow pace of cashgate cases, it is indisputable that there has certainly some notable progress in the court’s hearing and prosecution of the cases. This is a positive development that we need to build on as a country as we move forward in pursuit of justice on all cashgate cases,” said the two organisations.
Various socio-economic and legal experts have hailed the 11-year jail term which Justice Redon Kapindu meted out on ‘Lutepo at the High Court in Zomba last Friday.
On the first count of conspiracy to defraud government, Lutepo was slapped with the maximum sentence of three years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) while money laundering earned him eight years IHL.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :