Former Malawi president Joyce Banda has said her nine-month absence from the country does not imply that she is in “self-exile” t, saying she was not implicated in the cashgate affair in the forensic audit report by British firm Baker Tilly and that she stepped on to the global stage to give an opportunity to her successor President Peter Mutharika to run Malawi without her interference.
Banda, who has not set foot in Malawi since September, said there is a “precedence” that former president Bakili Muluzi stayed in the United Kingdom for almost a year after leaving office “and nobody said anything and nobody called that ‘self-exile’.”
She told Weekend Nation newspaper in an exclusive interview published on June 27, 2015 : “ I have been out of the country for nine months and five out of those months, I have been in the United States from where I travelled to many countries to fulfil speaking and other engagements.”
No one is quite certain what will happen when Banda finally does return home as she also told the paper that the government has “weakened” her security by withdrawing security apparatus.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has attempted to implicate her in a multibillion-Kwacha “Cashgate” corruption scandal , in allegedly ordering the assassination of Peter Mutharika when he was suspected of plotting a coup to prevent her from taking power, and, in more rent, allegations by Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa that she had a hand in the death of the late Bingu wa Mutharika.
Banda insists that she has no regrets over her handling of the Cashgate affair in which civil servants, businessmen and politicians were put on trial accused of exploiting a loophole in the government’s payment system to divert millions into their own pockets.
She says she asked the British government to fund a forensic audit, made publicly available online and also launched an investigation into Bingu wa Mutharika’s last three years as president that uncovered the theft of a staggering K92bn.
“It was my government that started investigations into Cashgate following my announcement at an Ecama (Economics Association of Malawi) conference in Mangochi on September 7, 2013 that we shall also review Ifmis (Integrated Financial Management Information Systems).
“It was my government that set up an investigative committee led by the former Deputy Inspector General of Police; it is during my time as President that we arrested people who are currently answering cases in court pertaining to Cashgate,” Banda told Weekend Nation.
“It is my government that drew up a work plan to completely deal with corruption and plunder of public resources that was subject to regular review by a Cabinet committee. It was my government that initiated a forensic audit following revelations of Cashgate.”
She continued: ” It is rare in most countries for a President to institute such a forensic audit in government during their tenure. I shall forever be grateful to the British Government for its provision of resources to enable us to engage an internationally-renowned audit firm, Baker Tilly, to conduct the forensic audit.
“The Baker Tilly audit report was released on October 30 2014 and it is a public document. I have seen the report and my name does not appear anywhere in it. I could not have taken all these steps if I knew that I was involved.”
The scandal prompted Britain and other donors to freeze direct aid, which made up 40% of the national budget.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :