Malawi former president Joyce Banda has again shot down allegations by cashgate suspect-in-chief Oswald Lutepo that while she was Head of State, Banda was the “main beneficiary” of the money Lutepo confessed he stole from government.
Lutepo made claims in an interview aired on Zodiak Broadcasting Station November 21, 2014, that he was only but a conduit in the whole cashgate scandal.
The former Head of State in an interview with Mail and Guardian from Johannesburg, South Africa claimed Lutepo was used by some desperate quarters to implicate her in the ‘cashgate’ scandal.
“ Mr. [Oswald] Lutepo was indeed a member of People’s Party and he was only six months in our party (after defecting from Democratic Progressive Party) when the Cashgate scandal was uncovered … When it was clear that he was the main suspect after the first group was arrested, my government instituted an international search and extradited him from China.
“The statement that he gave when he came back has been changed four times. … In fact, I have evidence that he was forced to implicate me, or his wife will be arrested,” Banda told M&G in an interview published on Friday
Banda said following that statement on the radio by Lutepo, there was an announcement by government spokesperson Kondwani Nankhumwa that they had CCTV [closed-circuit TV] footage showing Banda and Lutepo conniving to swindle government.
“If you recall I established a commission of inquiry to investigate and find out how our former president [Bingu wa Mutharika] died in State House. That’s how we first discovered that there no way we could see it because the CCTV camera in the State House wasn’t working. So for two years that we were in State House, we didn’t have any CCTV that was working. So I don’t know where this footage came from,” said Banda.
Quizzed on what she thinks is the reason to implicate her in the Cashgate scandal, Banda said she was warned by her advisers to expect “abuse” because she was fighting “powerful people and they will fight you back and they will not stand there.”
She said: “They warned me that they [would] bring me down … its part of the deal of being a leader who truly stands for the people.”
Mail& Guardian asked her if she is not afraid that the ‘powerful people’ will succeed on their plan.
The former president said: “ I’m not worried. Even if they do, Malawians now are very intelligent people; they can see through whatever is going on and they know the truth. They know that I served them well.”
“Cashgate” erupted after an audit ordered by former president Banda found that $30 million in state funds had been looted by officials in less than six months last year. It is reported that cashgate started in 1995 and there have been calls to audit K92 billion which was looted within that period. Most culprits in the K92 billion looting also feature in the cashgate currently being pursued through courts.
“I asked the British government to help me conduct a forensic audit and submitted the auditors’ report to parliament [which revealed that K13-billion) was stolen in three months during her administration]. I also conducted an audit into the last three years of Bingu Mutharika’s term, which revealed K92-billion) was stolen then. I’m not worried about being smeared. Malawians are very intelligent people; they can see through whatever is going on and they know the truth. They know that I served them well,” said Banda.
The scandal led international donors to suspend aid to Malawi, where half of its population live below the poverty line.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :