Businessman Pika Manondo, second accused person in the ongoing shooting case of former budget director, Paul Montfort Mphwiyo,whose shooting on 13 September 2013 led to the unravelling of the systematic looting of millions of government money dubbed ‘cashgate’ has entered his defence of his two charges of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder charges.
Manondo, who was found with a case to answer, on Thursday told the court how he was working with the gun-shot survivor in their deals and cashgate convict Oswald Lutepo .
He told the court how close he was with Mphwiyo as his errand boy and also working on his political dealings with the then ruling People Party (PP).
Manondo said they first started their political strategy towards PP convention which was held in Blantyre where he was used to campaign for some politicians which Mphwiyo listed, among them were Brown Mpinganjira and Uladi Mussa who were competing on first vice and second vice president respectively.
According to Manondo almost the whole list he was given by Mphwiyo to campaign for made it except Mpinganjira and Mussa who flopped.
He even told Mphwiyo a day before the convention that the two will likely lose as their competitors Sidik Mia and Dr Cassim Chilumpha respectively had both financial muscle and political experience to outclass them.
Upon the fulfilment of the PP mission , Manondo said Mphwiyo told him to strategise on 2014 tripartite elections to ensure PP victory.
He said he in June, 2013 he was tasked to work on how to spoil Malawi Congress Party (MCP) convention and ensure a weak candidate win the party presidency .
Manondo told the court that their main target was retired Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo not to win the presidency of MCP as he was a threat to PP based on his personality, financial muscle and tribe he was coming from as he is a Lhomwe from Southern Region .
He said they opted to campaign for veteran politician John Zenasi Ungapake (JZU) Tembo as he was deemed a weak candidate out of all based on past history which associate his name with one party era atrocities and an old age above 70 years.
Manondo said JZU Tembo was also chosen on the basis that he was too rigid to allow any alliance with any party unlike others including Munlo.
As they were in process of buying party clothes and other materials , their intelligence showed that Tembo was not going to stand but he was secretly campaigning for Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera as he was afraid to make it public fearing other candidates would have teamed up against Chakwera.
According to Manondo, they also started campaigning for Chakwera without his knowledge as they feared Munlo would split votes in the south where PP leader Joyce Banda comes from.
He told the court that he got money from Mphwiyo and other cash through Lutepo for operations like printing of T shirts, laptop bags written MCP convention, batches, caps , cloth (chitenje) and flyers all labelled Chakwera except the cloth which they were distributing through party supporters who never knew where they were coming from.
Manondo told the court that there was no formal or informal agreements to JZU Tembo or Chakwera as it was their plan to weaken the MCP.
He said Mphwiyo also funded his trip to Kenya to get knowledge on how the ruling party did it with biometric voting system which the government was ready to use but could not implement as it meant that every Malawian was supposed to have national identity cards to vote.
Manondo told the court that he roped in Macdonald Kumwembe in January 2013 as another man on the ground from Southern Region as they intensified their strategies towards 2014 tripartite elections.
British-funded audit had revealed cashgate money funded politicians’ election campaigns.
“The proceeds of Cashgate may have been used to support electoral campaigns, though it is not possible to confirm the source of the funding,” investigation by the auditor Baker Tilly found.
The principal beneficiaries included the PP’s former recruitment director, now imprisoned Oswald Lutepo, whose companies accounted for 4.4bn kwacha of the total. Lutepo was sacked by former president Joyce Banda after the scandal came to light; he ran as an independent candidate for parliamentary seat, but lost. Banda, also defeated at the polls, has always maintained her innocence.
Former justice minister Ralph Kasambara, Pika Manondo and McDonald Kumwembe are defending themselves on the attempted assassination of Mphwiyo.
Soon after Mphwiyo’s shooting millions of cash in Malawi kwacha, US dollars and South African rands started pitching up in unlikely places like in car trunks, baby dolls, under beds or in pillow cases.
Mphwiyo is also charged on cashgate cases.
Forensic auditors from British audit firm, Baker Tilly, established that under the administration of Joyce Banda, about K24 billion was looted at Capital Hill between April and September 2013 through inflated invoices and payments for goods and services not provided to government.
In 2015, a financial analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciliated between 2009 and December 2014 owing to abuse of the central payment system, Integrated Financial Management Information System .
Western donor nations and agencies, which provide 40% of Malawi’s budget, froze vital aid in reaction to the scandal.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :