I’m not dumb, I will act- Malawi Pres. Banda tells presser on ‘cash-gate’

I am not dumb to institute any investigations, and I cannot make a decision over media reports, after briefing, expect action, President Joyce Banda dared her critics, revealing that she already asked for help in investigations from foreign nations.

“Those arrested are those found with cash or documentation. For the big fish wait until the investigations to be completed,” said President Banda backed by Inspector General of Police Lot Dzonzi who said investigations follow a specific pattern and Malawians should wait until investigations are over.

She is a daring President, she faced the media, she stood up to be counted as a fearless Iron Lady, who is ready to take the bull by its horns, but President Joyce Banda presser for many reasons only served as a platform to enhance her mixed credentials, a democrat or an arrogant ruler-depending on which side of coin you read the story.

President Banda on arrival
President Banda on arrival

People’s Party apologists booed, but for the first time pressmen, award winning Pilirani Phiri of Zodiak, Nation Publications editor  Edward Chitsulo and another from Matindi all freely exchanged verbal jabs with the President, a highly charged exchange that is a rare occurrence since multiparty was introduced in Malawi.

“Theft or looting of public funds has been a norm in Civil Service. I started the investigations to stop this bad habit. I was wondering for how long Malawians will be victims of this abuse of resources. You are hearing of it because we have allowed the investigations. Those that were caught with K450 million in 2011, investigations were stopped,” charged President Banda said as Phiri insisted on why she could not ask others to move out to pave investigations and demanded by activists and some Civil Society.

President Banda said she will act when she got full briefing but she had put checks in various programmes including subsidy as some people were getting a commission of USD40 per tone for getting the contracts.

She said she had asked the Security and Investigative bodies to investigate the matter to full and asked Malawians to give space to investigations, saying some of the issues being highlighted were personal prejudices.

The Malawi leader  said she will take action on the supposed big fish, “If we were to benefit as Peoples Party or personally I would not have instituted the investigations. I am not dumb, I have a good reasoning capacity. Wait until the investigations get to the bottom of the matter, I will act. I cannot act based on media speculations.”

But ZBS reporter pressed on, “what about making your assets public,” to which Banda shot back, “I have been a business person since 21 years, money is not an issue. The perception one gets is that because of gender and someone told me, you feared the others and I am an easy one because you can talk to me.

“The problem is the law. I found the draft in office and I am pushing for the law to move forward. I ask you to demand Parliament to pass a law that would include what you are asking. I cannot do things outside the law.”

On supposedly growing asset base of Peoples Party, the President threw the ball back to Malawians “the UDF has vehicles, the DPP has vehicles these are bought by well-wishers of the party. There is no law that prohibits party donations. Others are asking for K100 per member.”

She denied assertions that the looting was connected to her party fundraising, saying she or her Vice President Khumbo Kachali could not have ordered anything of sort and challenged the investigators to unearth who ordered the same.

On whether people had lost confidence in her administration, the President rebutal was, “for arresting thieves, you mean people want me to do nothing.”

The presser, a one open and with direct exchange of words with the President over who shot Mphwiyo, when she denied she knew who shot him, were rare class of brevity both for the President and the journalists.

The journalists, who included veterans like Edward Chitsulo lived up to the expectations of Malawians, the President too, stood up, took every questions but for many, who expected a reshuffle or firing of some sort, she might have sounded ‘arrogant’ while to sober critics, her position was logical and safe political path as 2014 is near.

As to what next after her return, many will hope  Police chief Lot Dzonzi and  Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) HEAD Justice Rezine Mzikamanda will all speed up the investigations, do the briefings quickly and promised action should come as soon as yesterday.

For Civil Society, they have to rethink their strategy to look more legal and logical, how can you demand removal of innocent Malawians when they have not been accused of anything. The law states everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, unless human rights in Malawi apply selectively.

The best action is to give President e Banda a rope to hang herself, lets wait for investigations, a month would be reasonable time before heading to the streets, after all the President says she too is angry with the looting.

A historical October briefing and a countdown to political fall out that might change the outcome of 2014 general elections.joyce banda arrival

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