Bingu’s billions in Malawi Parliament: DPP denies Mutharika was corrupt baron

Business in the Malawi National Assembly came to a brief standstill on Wednesday after the issue of the K61 billion wealth said to have been accumulated by the country’s former President Bingu wa Mutharika sneaked into the day’s business with government claiming that the money was stolen from the public pulse.

The accusations has since led to Mutharika’s former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) defending him saying the late President was capable of accumulating such wealth after working in international organisations including the UN for closer to 25 years.

Mutharika’s wealth came on the fore as Minister of Economic Planning and Development Ralph Jooma was answering questions after presenting a report on the objectives and progress of the country’s Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), a government strategy to recover the country’s ailing economy.

Deputy Minister of Finance Cornelius Mwalwanda started it all when he asked Jooma whether Mutharika’s K61 billion has anything to do with the country’s economic problems.

Chaponda: In damage control
Chaponda: In damage control

Jooma in his response said the K61 billion wealth was just an indication how the then government was corrupt at the highest level.

“This revelation is not a surprise because even when the government of President Joyce Banda was coming in we were wondering how a country which not long ago was regarded as a star in economic improvement, and only rated second to Qatar would all of a sudden found itself in such economic problems,” he said.

Added Jooma, who also served in Mutharika’s cabinet: “The problem is that there was corruption at the highest level.”

Jooma also said the figure of K61 billion was an interesting coincidence as it is similar to the K61 billion arrears that the current administration found as due to local suppliers.

Chaponda standing on a point of order said: “Is it in order for this House to be talking about the dead and not the living? Is it in order to talk about the corruption in the previous government and not the corruption and the mess in the current government?”

But could not go on as he was cut short by the second deputy Speaker Juliana Mphande who sensing the direction the debate was taking stopped the discussion.

Chaponda, however, in an interview with Nyasa Times outside the House defended Mutharika.

“As a party we feel that it is unfair to come up with conclusions, this is a President who worked for UN for almost 25 years, the World Bank, had several farms in Malawi and also in Zimbabwe and he was also a writer,” he said.

He added:  “In the UN there is a lot of money we get a lot of money. Even myself I have several bank accounts abroad in Thailand, Ethiopia and other countries where I still have money. Why should we be talking of corruption in the way he got the money,” he added.

Chaponda said what was happening with Bingu’s wealth was just a PP plan to damage the DPP as the country goes to the elections next year.

“Let’s be objective in our criticism.  We are used to witchunting by this government,” said Chaponda.

He said Mutharika family will issue a statement on the matter.

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