Former Malawi president Joyce Banda (JB) has hitS back at the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for threatening to arrest her in relation to the looting of public resources at Capital Hill, dubbed Cashgate, saying government should should first arrest President Peter Mutharika and businessperson of Pioneer Investments Limited, Zameer Karim over what she called “organized corruption” before dreaming of pouncing in her.
Banda made remarks during her whistle-stop political meetings in the northern bordaer district of Karonga at Nyungwe on Monday describing the arrest talk as “senseless”.
Her comments follow government’s sentiments that Banda’s warrant of arrest in relation to Cashgate is still alive and valid, and that in the fullness of time, she will face the law.
In July 2017, Malawi Police Service (MPS) said it had secured a warrant of arrest from the court for JB, and that it had also notified International Police (Interpol) member-States about it. JB was then completing a residency as a distinguished fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, US at that time.
Even after returning home, government remained mum on JB’s arrest, only for Cabinet ministers Henry Mussa, Goodall Gondwe and Samuel Tembenu to break the silence at a news conference on Friday, telling the nation that the warrant of arrest was still valid.
DPP Secretary General Grezelder Jeffrey wa Jeffrey also said at the party’s campaign launch in Lilongwe on Sunday that Banda will face arrest and answer charges.
At the same rally, President Mutharika also unleashed a blazing attack on Banda, accusing her of discrediting his administration to the international community.
“Now she is back and is claiming we wanted to work with her. No way,” said Mutharika.
Banda’s top party officials told a news conference in Mzuzu on Saturday that DPP is bitter because PP rebuffed several requests for an electoral alliance in the May 21 2019 elections.
But Mutharika refuted this, saying his party has never spoken to PP because it has never been interested to be associated with PP.
“There is no way, no way, That’s not true,” said Mutharika, stressing “There is now way we can associate with Cashgate people.”
However, in her political meeting on Karonga, Banda wondered why the Mutharika administration has failed to arrest her years after police told the nation they had credible evidence that she took part in draining public resources then.
The PP leader called on the country’s law enforcement agencies to first arrest President Mutharika and Zameer Karim, the tycoon on the Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scam whose Pioneer Investments donated K145 million to the DPP)through a Standard Bank account which Mutharika is the sole signatory
Karim also donated five vehicles, worth K85 million to the President.
“We have someone whose party admitted benefitting from the K45 million to a businessman embroiled in a K2.7 billion police food rations contract controversy. The DPP then a returned the money accepting it was corruptly acquired. So, if there is someone to be arrested then let Mutharika and Zameer Karim be the first ones,” said Banda.
“Taxpayers’ money has seriously been plundered by the DPP administration. All these stories have been there in the country’s newspapers. Have you heard anyone being arrested, convicted and sentenced?,” question Banda.
The former president also ordered the arrest of those connected to various “cashgates” that have marred Mutharika’s first term before the country goes to Polls on May 21 this year.
K1 trillion DPP looting
She described as pure mockery and an insult to poor Malawians the government’s repeated assertions that it is committed to ending corruption yet cases of organized fraud and corruption show no signs of abating and strangely no arrests made so far.
Said Banda: “Corruption scandals involving this administration have resulted in the ransacking of about K1 trillion according to calculations made for the past five years alone.
“These include careless mismanagement of public funds; K58 billion at Escom, K54 billion at Office of the President and Cabinet, K53 billion at Immigration Department, K65 billion at ADMARC, K230 billion forensic audit and the famous 16 files and many more.”
JB continued: “You want to tell me such a government has moral ground talking about ending corruption? My government then arrested 72 people after we uncovered the cashgate and some were convicted and sentenced. Tell me how many have been arrested now over these huge sums of money plundered.”
Banda, who has repeatedly denied benefiting from the Cashgate when in power, said she is not moved by recent outbursts from three cabinet ministers trying to dent her reputation.
Speaking during the same function, PP Vice Presidents for North, South and East namely Ralph Mhone, Ephraim Chibvunde and Roy Kachale Banda took turns telling the DPP administration not to cheat itself that JB and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera would stoop so low and engage in primitive politics of intimidation ahead of the elections.
They challenged not to keep quiet and allow the administration suppress critical voices of reason in this democratic dispensation.
Chibvunde further faulted the DPP for claiming that in the past five years it has made drugs in public hospitals available describing such a statement as insensitive and careless coming when the majority of poor citizens are being sent back to buy medicines in private pharmacies.
PP argues that Cashgate began during the Bingu wa Mutharika ‘s DPP administration. Banda ascended to the presidency on April 7 2012 in line with constitutional order after the death of former president Binguwa Mutharika. Up to that point, Banda was Bingu’s estranged vice-president who was expelled from DPP in December 2010.
When in power, Banda ordered a forensic audit undertaken by British firm RSM (formerly Baker Tilly) covering a randomly selected six months period—between April and September 2013.
The audit established that about K24 billion was siphoned from the public coffers through dubious payments on inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In May 2015, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciled between 2009 and December 31 2014.
However, the K577 billion figure was later revised downwards to K236 billion by another British forensic auditor.
Banda is not only confronted by a politically motivated investigation and the threat of arrest, but has received numerous death threats aimed at her and her family. These threats explicitly warn that if she continues speaking out about political corruption, she will be killed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :