A meeting of ‘inner-circle’ members of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held on June 14, 2014 indicate that they wish government treads carefully on cash-gate prosecutions to avoid “shooting own foot”.
The meeting, which was held at Lilongwe-Mtunthama State Lodge, was chaired by President Peter Mutharika’s personal assistant and closest confidante, Ben Phiri. Other members were cabinet ministers Dr. George Chaponda, Henry Mussa and Patricia Kaliati; business magnet Leston Mulli, Intelligence chief, Nicholas Dausi, parliamentarian Noel Masangwi and Reverend Billy Gama of the CCAP.
According to a record of the meeting sourced by Nyasa Times, Mussa told the meeting that “government must not rush with the cash-gate report to avoid shooting their own foot and to prevent (Malawi Congress Party) MCP from gaining political mileage on the same”.
The cash-gate scandal involved theft of millions of government money through fraud and the manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS). While the scandal was exposed in the last few months of President Joyce Banda and PP administration, the DPP is also strongly linked to the scandal as some evidence suggest the abuse of the system started during its reign under the late President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Mussa is quoted as having suggested during the meeting that instead of cash-gate, government must prioritize the ESCOM fire investigation, alleging that “some People’s Party functionaries” may have been behind that fire allegedly to destroy evidence of some financial fraud and underhand dealings.
Phiri informed the members that President Mutharika had received information that some people in the party felt sidelined but said that this was the case because “the temperatures are still high”.
“The President will not rush to make political appointments as the international community is watching with keen interest,” Phiri is quoted to have informed the meeting, adding that the priority was to regain donor confidence and that one way of achieving this was to avoid political appointments that are not based on merit.
In the same vein, the President’s PA informed the meeting that government would engage the services of “one of our comrades in diaspora” to manage government Public Relations on the international scene.
In his contribution, Chaponda proposed that the DPP should work on gaining some political ground in the Northern Region by coaxing into its ranks at least two “heavyweights”.
He suggested these could be Mzimba legislator and former State Vice President Khumbo Kachali and Karonga Central parliamentarian, Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo.
In his contribution, Mulli suggested that the former Head of State Joyce Banda’s business interests must be closely monitored and put in check to stop her from calling any ‘political shots’ now or in the near future. He alleged that the former President has substantial business interests in sugar, cement and transportation.
Kaliati, in her contribution, suggested that government does not arrest former President Banda prior to her trip to “to avoid attracting public sympathy for her”.
Dausi informed the meeting that the President had tasked him and Bright Malopa to convince “at least half of the independent MPs” into joining the DPP and that their assignment was progressing very well.
Masangwi is quoted as proposing that as a matter of urgency, strategic positions of Army Commander, Police Inspector General, Prison Chief, Chief Secretary to Government, Accountant General, Attorney General, MRA Commissioner General and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) be filled by “people that can serve DPP’s interests”.
He also suggested that the party should ensure that the Youth Cadets are empowered to defend the party and silence critics like the outspoken MCP parliamentarian and spokesperson, Jessie Kabwila.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, Dausi trashed the meeting’s record describing is as “work of our detractors”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :