Malawi former president Joyce Banda has rejected claims by government it has duly provided her requirements of a retired president as stipulated by the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act of 1994, saying government is giving adulterated information.
According to the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act, a former president is entitled to a tax-free monthly pension, a house or a housing allowance where a house is not provided, two motor vehicles, medical services and six security guards, among other staff and benefits.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango, who is also official government spokesperson, said in a statement on Wednesday upon her retirement, Banda received a tax-free lump sum gratuity of K30 million ($49,931.4) comprising K12 million ($19,972.6) and K18 million ($29,958.9) being gratuity in her capacity as former vice-president and former president respectively.
Banda’s spokesperson Andekuche Chanthunya said although the gratuity was paid upon departure from office, not been paid salary since she left office 18 months ago and insists that she is being denied her retirement benefits, including accommodation and security.
Government spokesman confirmed Banda is yet to start receiving her monthly pension, saying the former president’s pension is currently being processed by the Director of Pensions at the Accountant General’s Office.
Banda also disputed Mhango’s statement that government through the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development asked her through her representatives to identify a house after nine houses which were shown to the retired chief justice Richard Banda on behalf of the former president were rejected in an identification process.
Chanthunya said the house was withdrawn and not that she rejected and also that house that she refused to occupy was “not secure.”
“Malawians should know that when Kamuzu left State House, he was moved to Mudi and the VP lived in Nyambadwe house. Perhaps Malawians needs to be told by the government spokesperson what happened to Nyambadwe State House and who took it to be their own property. When President Bakili Muluzi left office he was given a house in Lilongwe. People need to go and see the house and compare it to the house they are talking about.”
Chanthunya said some of the houses which government showed the office of the former president were rejected for security reasons.
“Among the houses which we were shown, others had neighbours who had upstairs houses which means they would stand on their verandas and see whatever activities were happening in the former president’s home.”
On not being truthful about returning home, Banda said “Malawians can go and check with Bon Voyage travel agency in Malawi who booked her ticket to confirm that she was returning leaving DC on the 30th October. “
The former president’s spokesman said her return was delayed because a week before her departure, her office was informed of the withdrawal of the house.
Mhango confirmed the house was withdrawn as the owners advised that it was committed to other tenants.
On the security detail, Chanthunya said the police officers have been “grossly incapacitated” as they were disarmed and they only have one gun which they use, something which still provides gaps and she has not been provided with vehicles which are also a part of security as they necessitate her travelling.
The guns were withdrawn by Police deputy inspector general Duncan Mwapasa and that Banda personally phoned him to confirm about this decision. She said the Chief Secretary for government George Mkondiwa also confirmed the decision to disarm her guards when she phoned him.
“Malawians should remember that when the DPP govt. last weakened her security in 2010, on the 19th November, 2010, she was involved in a mysterious road accident. Let government refute this incident,” he said.
Banda has also trashed speculations that she risks facing charges against her, saying she is “innocent” but accused government for being “desperate” to drum up charges against her from attempted murder of President Peter Mutharika at Lumbazi police station, treason for allegedly killing President Bingu wa Mutharika (this case is in court and government has asked for an out of court settlement), corruption (claiming they have a CCTV footage to prove it) when in actual fact there was no CCTV facility in state houses in two years of her presidency.
Her office said they have “evidence” of suspects being persuaded to implicate Banda in exchange for shorter sentences.
“JB is not worried about these false claims as she has letters and documents to prove these malicious initiatives by the authorities. Some of the people they were approaching have been talking,” said a statement from her office.
It adds: “The government needs to display evidence of any wrong doing on her part. In the same vein, JB wants to see the speeding up of the forensic audit because the link will stop these insults. Malawi will find out that the K577 billion is the genesis of the K20 billion Cashgate with some of the perpetrators being the same people. All these matters will be proven by the court. “]
Banda prides herself the one who started the cashgate crackdown, arrested the suspects, initiated the trials and conducted the forensic audit with the help of the British government.
“There were no mysterious deaths of innocent ACB officials and there were no breakings into diplomats’ houses to steal corruption files. It is therefore a waste of time to use false useless claims to intimidate her,” reads the statement.
The former president has been out of Malawi since July 2014.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :