Malawi government has said claims by immediate past former president Joyce Banda that she is failing to return to Malawi citing her compromised personal security and that of her family, lack of a proper house and a 17-month unpaid salary among others as “insincere”.
According to the former president’s spokesman Andekuche Chanthunya, Banda’s return is also compromised because the Malawi government is abdicating its responsibility in giving her retirement benefits.
The President’s (Salaries and Benefits) Act 1994, Section 4 (1) states that a retired president shall be entitled to such a salary, which shall be tax-free, as parliament may, from time to time, appropriate him or her.
But Minister of Information and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango, said in a media statement released on Wednesday that government has duly provided Banda, Africa’s first female ex-president, the requirements of a retired President as stipulated by the President’s (Salaries and Benefits) Act, 1994.
“Upon retirement, Dr Joyce Banda received a tax free lump sum gratuity amounting to K30 million comprising K12 million and K18 million being gratuity in her capacity as former Vice President and former President, respectively. The payment was made on 29th November, 2014 and collected on 12th January, 2015,” reads a statement by Mhango, who is also government spokesman.
However, the Minister said that Banda has yet to start receiving her monthly pension, saying it is currently being processed by the Director of Pensions at the Accountant General’s Office.
On her retirement home, the statement states that Banda was allocated an official residence in Area 43, Lilongwe, as soon as she left Office.
“The house belongs to Full Gospel Church of God, P.O. Box 3053, Lilongwe 3 and is being managed by Knight Frank. The Ministry of Lands and Urban Development identified, assessed and rented it on 28th May, 2014. After maintenance, the house was given to her in July 2014.”
Government said the former president did not occupy the house “as it was allegedly of poor quality and did not meet the required standards” despite Government paying rentals for a period exceeding one and half years.
“As a result, on 12th May, 2015 the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development received fresh instructions from the Office of the President and Cabinet to terminate the Tenancy Agreement, identify and allocate a new house to the former President. The lease agreement was terminated on 30th August, 2015 and identification exercise of new houses happened in August 2015.”
Government states that is has asked the former President to identify the house and notify the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to assess and rent.
“The Ministry is still waiting to hear from the former President’s office if a house suiting her taste has been found,” Mhango said in the statement.
The former president’s office also said the government’s reduction of Banda’s security detail in June this year during a total breakdown of security in Malawi, exposed her to harm.
“On November 19, 2010, when she was vice-president, her official vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz saloon, registration number MG 2, was involved in a mysterious road accident at Kanengo in Lilongwe.
“The decision to weaken her security detail this time round and attempts by the DPP administration to victimise her are reminiscent of the 2010 events,” Chanthunya said.
But Information Minister said a former president is entitled one Head Guard (Personal Bodyguard) and 6 Security Guards and that “Government has duly compiled with requirement by providing seven Police Security Officers to the former President”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :