The head of London-based Royal African Society has exonerated Malawi President Joyce Banda from what is known as the “Cashgate” scandal in which billions of public money is said to have been stolen.
The allegations of corruption and embezzlement are seen as a massive setback for Banda, who faces elections next year in May; two years after she assumed power following the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika from a heart attack in April 2011.
But Richard Dowden, Executive Director of the Royal African Society – Britain’s prime Africa organisation, said President Banda was unlikely to have been involved in the in the malfeasance.
“I would be amazed if she was aware of any of this or allowed it to happen,” Dowden was quoted by UK’s broadsheet daily newspaper The Telegraph.
Downed noted that President Banda “comes from an NGO background rather than a political one and has come up against a very powerful network of people who have control of those within the bureaucracy and are looting state funds before they can reach the people who need them most.”
JB – as President Banda is acclaimed by political supporters – won acclaim in the West for austerity measures and moves to bolster the economy, which was in a tailspin under late Mutharika.
She has vowed to get to the bottom of the scam and practically rolled out the state machinery to crackdown on those involved in the looting of public resources.
Donors are withholding support to recurrent budget but have not fully withdrawn as they wait the action on the matter.
London is also helping Lilongwe get to the bottom of the scandal.
A team of independent auditors, with UK support, are conducting a full forensic audit.