The former President of the Republic of Malawi, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, wishes to categorically deny allegations, in their totality, made by Mr. Oswald Lutepo that while she was Head of State, Dr. Banda was the “main beneficiary” of the money Mr. Lutepo allegedly stole from Government.
Mr. Lutepo claims, in an interview aired on Zodiak Broadcasting Station on Friday, November 21, 2014, that he was only but a conduit in the whole cashgate scandal.
The former Head of State would like to state, in no uncertain terms, that Mr. Lutepo’s allegations are false, malicious, defamatory and a calculated attempt by some desperate quarters to implicate herin the ‘cashgate’ scandal.
Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda is fully aware that issues of theft of public money (cashgate) are presently in court and it is unacceptable, under the law, to comment on such matters.
However, considering the gravity of allegations made by Mr. Lutepo, the former Head of State is left with no choice but to set the record straight, for posterity.
Mr. Lutepo’s allegations come fast on the heels of the Forensic Audit by UK’s Baker Tilly on cashgate. Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda’s name does not appear anywhere in the report contrary to the expectations of some quarters alluded to above. Mr. Lutepo’s name appears prominently in that report hence his present indictment.
Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda is aware that in the absence of her name in the Forensic Audit Report, her political detractors are using Mr. Lutepo as a pawn to drag her in the mud in order to dent her reputation as a citizen of Malawi, wife, mother, politician and philanthropist.
It is widely reported in the media, including on Nyasa Times, that Mr. Lutepo has been under pressure to implicate Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda in exchange for his own freedom or failing which his wife and daughter would be arrested on related charges.
Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda has in possession of written confessions by other cashgate suspects that some state agents have been pressurizing them to implicate Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda. These written confessions would be made public at an appropriate time.
Mr. Lutepo’s allegations smell fishy, especially coming at a time when there is growing discontentment among Malawians following the deteriorating economic situation. Calls for the return to Malawi of the former Head of State have grown louder and some quarters seem to be panicking hence the demonization campaign against her.
The former Head of State would like to appeal to her People’s Party (PP) supporters, her family, relatives and friends to remain calm in the light of the on-going political witch-hunt and machinations. Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda remains resolute as a servant of the people, particularly the marginalized and disadvantaged.
The former President would like to encourage all Malawians and the country’s leadership to concentrate more on dealing with the worsening political, social and economic situation than listening to a cashgate suspect who has so far proved to be unreliable, untrustworthy and susceptible to manipulation. The nation is aware that apart from the cashagte charges, Mr. Lutepo is also answering other charges bordering on telling lies.
Indeed, instead of focusing on extorting information from Mr. Lutepo and others, authorities must also focus on getting to the root of other financial scandals, such as the much-touted MK92 billion scam, which have had a negative impact on the national economy.
The former President would like to reiterate that she has at no time during her tenure as Head of State, or indeed at any other time, been involved in cashgate. In fact, during her reign, she dedicated her efforts to ensuring that all people involved in the plunder of public resources face the law.
While she was Head of State, Dr. Joyce Banda contributed immensely to the positive improvement of the social, economic and political order in this country. Malawians are well aware of her achievements during her two-year reign, which included reliable electricity and water supply, sufficient food for citizens, sufficient fuel and forex,improved rural housing, successful Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), fertilizer loan scheme, respect of freedom of speech and press.
There was, during Her Excellency’s tenure, an unprecedented economic growth in Malawi. Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda believes that the only way out of the current economic political quagmire is for the present administration to reach out to other leaders, including her, to explore common spaces and find workable solutions for sustainable economic, social and political development. Political witch-hunting will only serve to exacerbate the already hostile environment.
The former Head of State, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda is, meanwhile, consulting her legal advisors to determine the way forward.
- Tusekele Mwanyongo, Media Liason Officer for Joyce Banda.