Malawi government on Monday issued a media statement hitting back at former ruling Peoples Party (PP) and its leadership for alleging that President Peter Mutharika induced cashgate main suspect, Oswald Lutepo to implicate former president Joyce Banda in the scandal but later withdrew the statement without giving reasons and resubmitted it.
Lutepo in a Zodiak radio exclusive interview admitted wrong doing in the looting of public funds at the Capital Hill in Lilongwe last year but revealed he was only “a conduit” in the whole cashgate scandal.
The former PP executive member said Banda , while in power, was the mastermind of the pilferage of public resources, christened as cashgate through which about K20 billion was stolen.
But PP and Banda have separately dismissed the allegations, claiming Lutepo has been induced by government to implicate the former Head of State whose name is not listed in the recently released Baker Tilly audit report on the scandal.
Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa issued a statement Monday which said government argued that the best PP and leadership could do is to remain silent rather than glorifying Lutepo’s claims.
“Everything being equal, the best response to such claims would have been silence because that is what nonsense in the civilized world deserves,” said Nankhumwa in statement which the Ministry of Information later said has been withdrawn later to be sent again. No reasons for the earlier withdraw were given.
In that statement, Nankhumwa said that government was forced to respond to PP’s “unjustified and serious allegations since silence does not always work Malawi, as it is mostly misconstrued as consent of the allegations.”
It said Mutharika has never accepted, cannot accept, and won’t accept to be seduced by any amount or kind of
provocation to enter the sphere of petty politics, the kind that has characterized the conduct of some politicians and political parties in the country for years.
“The State President is acutely aware of the unrelenting machinations by some desperate politicians and/or political parties to pursue the limits of hatred and ill-will against him, even if it means inventing and manufacturing diatribe and lies as long as they satisfy their desire to see him portrayed in the bad light,” added Nankhumwa.
He added: “It is not true that the State President, by himself or by his agent, influenced directly or indirectly any pronouncement that Mr. Lutepo has made, is making and will be making, if at all, because there is no need, existent or imaginary, for doing so.”
The government spokesperson argues that Lutepo is a bonafide citizen of Malawi therefore qualifies to enjoy all rights provided naturally by birth and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic.
“If the allegations by the PP are a suggestion that under their administration a Head of State would interfere with people’s views, let them be told without any equivocation that the current Head o State is different – he does not interfere with people’s process of thought.
Nankhumwa further argues that Lutepo is an adult and of sound mind, and government has no reason to doubt as he was once trusted by PP with a senior responsibility of their party as Director of Resource Mobilisation.
” Further, the PP have confirmed on several occasions receipt of resources, including donation of vehicles, from Mr. Lutepo. They could not have received these donations without question if they found him wanting in terms of believability as they want to portray him now.
“They (PP) could not have given such an enormous task to someone with incoherent character. Unless we are shown evidence to suggest otherwise, we take the view that Mr. Lutepo knows what he is doing and is fully responsible for his actions and utterances.”
Nankhumwa maintained that Lutepo has never been an associate of President Mutharika or a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), adding there has never been any contact between him and any member of the DPP machinery for any business, including the suggested machination to hatch up anything to implicate anybody in anything.
The statement had asked PP to provide solid details about such alleged scheming, instead of just making conjecture for the love of it.
“Mr. Lutepo was arrested under the former administration for reasons which, we were all made to believe, met the threshold for taking that decision. President Mutharika was not involved in making it. His understanding is that Mr. Lutepo is answering accusations in a court of law and this process must not be interfered with by what is
unreasonable and unwarranted, including attempts by anybody to use these matters for political point-scoring or political scores evening up.
“The President believes that the country’s criminal justice system has proven on occasions that defy count that it can be trusted to handle matters objectively. The system should therefore be left alone to do its work without any interference,” the government statement read.
Nankhumwa then said it is not for President Mutharika to sponsor a scheme to implicate Banda if she was involved in Cashgate,, saying the enduring glow of truth will always expose her at the time of its own choosing.
“Likewise, if she is innocent, the clemencies of innocence will vindicate her regardless of how long it takes. Despite that the State President is aware that the PP is so seized with desperation to hurt him, he has no intention of squaring up with them, and still urges the former President to accept the olive branch that was offered to her, so that together in harmony and unity we can attend to the effort of developing our country and making Malawi a better place.
“The President does not wish to think that politics of slander will help to move this country beyond the curve of the many challenges it is facing. Let’s all endeavour to be sensible and use our creative propensities for productive, not destructive, uses.”
Banda, who became southern Africa’s first female head of state in 2012, described Lutepo’s allegations are “false, malicious, defamatory “and a calculated attempt by some desperate quarters to implicate her in the ‘cashgate’ scandal.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :