Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda has dared the government to stop intimidating her with an arrest warrant over the infamous Cashgate scandal.
Banda, who is also People’s Party (PP) president, directly addressing President Peter Mutharika and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said: “I do not fear. In my vocabulary fear does not exist and I would like to sternly caution the government to stop threatening me with an arrest because I am not scared.”
The Malawian former leader made the defiant admonition at Chibanja Township in Mzuzu City Saturday afternoon during a political campaign rally addressed by Malawi Congress Party (MCP), PP, Freedom Party alliance.
“I would like to warn this out-going government to stop witch-hunting me because I have endorsed MCP’s presidential candidate, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera who is poised to win the May 21 tripartite elections.
“When someone has committed a crime, that person is arrested and duly prosecuted alongside with evidence of their crime. It has been a year since I returned to this country why did they not arrest me all this time, why now?” queried a visibly annoyed Banda.
Banda was responding to three senior Cabinet minister public announcement that she risks being arrested over her involvement in the Cashgate scandal “because there is an existing valid warrant of arrest for her over alleged abuse of office and money laundering.”
Neither Banda or her lawyers have been issued with the purported warrant of arrest.
Speaking at the news conference which, among others, was attended by Finance minister Goodall Gondwe, Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Samuel Tembenu and Malawi government spokesperson and Information, Communication and technology minister Henry Mussa said Joyce Banda’s arrest warrant is “alive and valid.”
The three ministers took turns explaining that in the fullness of time, the former president will face the arm of law.
“Government has been forced to comment on the issue following continued political statements by both Joyce Banda and MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera insinuating that the former leader is innocent on the massive plunder of public funds popularly known as cashgate,” said Mussa.
Weighing in on matter, MCP/PP/Freedom alliance presidential hopeful Chakwera said: “Using warrants of arrest to persecute political rivals is misuse of justice. It is politics of retribution and total irresponsibility. Stop this madness and get out of here.”
Chakwera added: “Let them arrest Joyce Banda if they think she is guilty of any crime but why are they arresting her now? We know these are useless people (Tikuwadziwa awa ndi anthu achabechabe) who just want to intimidate their political rivals.”
He accused DPP of making “scare monger tactic” against Banda and political rivals.
Chakwera charged that the DPP led government is after Joyce Banda because she is endorsing him and that they know that as a firebrand politician, the former president is a political game changer.
“Tell them to be scared of their own plunders of public resources,” he added.
Speaking earlier, former vice president Khumbo Kachali who is also Freedom Party president said Malawians must not allow the government to oppress its own people adding that arresting the former president is an arrest for all Malawians.
Said Kachali: “We must not allow the DPP government to arrest any politician for no reason but intimidation. Arresting Joyce Banda is arresting Malawians, arresting Dr Chakwera is arresting Malawians and arresting Dr Saulos Chilima [UTM party president is arresting the people of Malawi and arresting Atupele Muluzi [UDF president] is arresting Malawians.”
The scandal was uncovered during the administration of President Joyce Banda, though it is widely believed to have begun prior to her taking office.
The scandal first came to light in September 2013, when an accounts assistant in the Ministry of Environment was found with several thousand dollars (USD) in his car.
A week later, the Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance was shot outside his home, and several other civil servants were found hiding large sums of money, thus unravelling what came to be known as the “Cashgate” scandal.
Following revelation, the British government sponsored an independent audit into the scandal, focusing on transactions made through Malawi’s electronic financial management system and the first audit – released to the public in February 2014 – demonstrated that 16 Malawian companies received illicit payments from the government between April and September 2013 for goods and services that were not performed.
Cashgate remains a high-profile political dispute in Malawi.
Likewise, Banda and her People’s Party (PP) have long speculated both Mutharikas’ involvement in Cashgate, citing the mysterious murder of the head of administration at the graft bursting body, Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), a failure to enact financial reforms and suspicious wealth accumulation of high-ranking DPP members.
So far, there is no link between either the former Joyce Banda or current President Peter Mutharika and Cashgate that has been established.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :