Chief cashgate suspect and businessman, Oswald Lutepo, does not cease to amaze. On Friday, November 21, he spoke to Zodiak Broadcasting Station from his alleged ‘hiding’ place. As expected, Mr. Lutepo subjected Malawians to his now familiar narrative about cashgate and the people that he thinks must be involved.
This time round, his victim is former Head of State, Joyce Banda. Lutepo alleged that he was engaged by the former President to siphon huge sums of money from Capital. The loot was duly ‘surrendered’ to the former president every time it materialized. Lutepo claimed he is not at peace and that he is now a poor man, having been arrested and tried in courts for what he did, on behalf of others.
He went on to apologize to President Peter Mutharika for making his job difficult (donors have withheld their funds because of cashgate).
Many people may now have lost count of how many times Mr. Lutepo has come out in the open to ‘tell the truth’ about cashgate and the role he played to find himself with K1.2 billion in loose money without rendering any service to government.
Every time Mr. Lutepo’s ‘truth’ always comes out differently and often contradicting the first ‘truth’. In fact, the courts recognized this fact and rained in on him over charges of telling too many ‘truths’ that contradict each other under oath—a crime dutifully christened ‘perjury’ in legalese.
Lutepo is again dwelling on falsehood when he claims his companies, including the International Procurement Services (IPS), were being used or abused by the former President to siphon money from government because a University of Malawi graduate, successful businessman of many years and politician of his caliber cannot just accept to be used blindly like a toddler.
He registered the companies that are embroiled in cashgate scandal. Lutepo has run them for a long, long time, dating to the era of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
His is an enterprising individual who started doing business way back. He is the owner of Naming’omba Tea Estates in Thyolo, a very large commercial agricultural concern that employs a lot of people. At the time he was buying Naming’omba Tea Estate, it was worthy a cool K2 billion. This was way before the PP government under Joyce Banda came to power.
Lutepo was also a member of the consortium of Malawians that offered and nearly bought the liquidated Air Malawi before Ethiopian Airlines snapped it up.
He is obviously a rich man. Lutepo is therefore a man who cannot claim to be poor before or after his cashgate escapades of 2013. He cannot claim that the cashgate money was the only real money to ever cross his fingers.
He is thus telling another lie (or is it truth?) when he says he is poor, in hiding, and that his workers have lost their livelihood and are now unemployed because of what he did.
It is all part of a carefully concocted theatrics meant to hoodwink the DPP government to let him off the hook. Lutepo is an opportunist whose history of business and riches is littered with dubious dealings and not-so-straight-forward practices. Lutepo shrives on bad-mouthing business compatriots and his companies have always been on the wrong side of the law for tax related crimes.
Lutepo joined the People’s Party not for the love of the party. His interest was primarily to safeguard his huge business interests. He was looking for favours and protection when he does it wrong, as he usually does.
His lies and half–truths are therefore not coming as a surprise. It is something that is spread in his blood like an HIV virus, and ready to devour its unsuspecting victim. He has already shown that he is an invertebrate without spine. He can sing and blab, like a bird at every push.
It is clearer now that he has chosen his place and role in this whole cashgate affair—that is to be a pawn that panders to the highest bidder.
He has allowed himself to be used as a lap dog by the DPP in order to deal with Joyce Banda and the leadership of the previous government. It is an open and shut case.
- Hastings Kandoje is a social-political commentators based in Lilongwe and a columnist on Nyasa Times. All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Nyasa Times.