Former Malawi president Joyce Banda has denied claims by President Peter Mutharika that she was responsible for bad publicity of the Head of State, saying the accusations were utterly shocking and she has also spoken on “other equally shocking matters” as raised against her by the DPP government.
During a news conference held on June 25, 2015 upon his arrival from Mozambique , Mutharika is quoted as accusing Banda of paying journalists to write negative stories about him; that she allegedly interfered with the electoral process in May 2014 , shunned his inauguration; and that the former president has rejected an ‘olive branch’ the President had extended to me.
“I have never paid any journalist to write bad stories against President Mutharika. On the contrary, President Mutharika had invited journalists to Sanjika Palace for an interface in November 2014. While there, journalists were offered MK50, 000s. Some journalists returned the envelopes containing the cash as they felt it was morally and ethically wrong to receive it,” Banda said in a media statement.
“On the elections of May 20, 2014, I indeed raised serious concerns about the many irregular activities that took place in the course of the elections such as the announcing of results from other places when others were still voting elsewhere. Many Malawians shared my concerns and in the interest of ensuring a smoother process where Malawians genuinely choose their preferred candidate, I had suggested that a presidential poll re-run take place where I would not be available as a candidate. So, there was no question of envy against anyone as I no longer had vested interest,” she state.
“In spite of all this, the courts ruled in favour of the Malawi Electoral Commission to go ahead and announce the results of the elections whereupon Professor Peter Mutharika was declared winner of the presidential race. I was one of the first people to accept this and immediately congratulated the President-elect.”
On Mutharika’s offer of an “olive branch” to Banda, she said late Yasser Arafat, who was Palestinian President once said: ‘I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.’
Banda said this was a serious quote with hostile connotations. During his inauguration, President Mutharika made almost a similar declaration about me.
“I take serious exception to the President’s ‘extension of the olive branch’ because he has never attempted to reach out to me if he were indeed to talk about reconciliation.
“Within the six hours of his being declared winner, my official cars were withdrawn. I woke up at six o’clock in the morning without any car. In his inauguration speech, President Mutharika started by castigating me. I have ignored all this and I have told myself and all Malawians that a country can only have one leader at a time and that as a country, we must move together into the future.
“Since I left office in May 2014, I have not uttered any single word to denigrate Professor Peter Mutharika;On the contrary, I have endured untold political persecution and abuse in the past year,” she said.
Banda said DPP government, through its spokesperson, Kondwani Nankhumwa told a news conference in Lilongwe on December 4, 2014 that they had handed over CCTV footage to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) that captured meetings between chief cash-gate convict Oswald Lutepo and her.
“This was an apparent attempt by the DPP government to implicate me in the cash-gate scandal. However, State House security officers have confirmed that CCTV cameras at all state residences have not been functional since the time of the former President late Bingu wa Mutharika. The ACB has been calling for the alleged CCTV footage without any success,” she pointed out.
“In February 2015, government announced through spokesperson Nankhumwa that international organizations should not recognize and honour me for my various life achievements before consulting the Malawi Government. Government went further to demand that I must always take leave of President Mutharika every time I make any trip abroad.
“I find such demands not in conformity with the law. I am a private citizen who can travel to anywhere in the world anytime without any restrictions,” stated Banda.
Banda added that President Mutharika has also made “serious allegations” to the effect that she had planned to kill him when he was arrested on alleged coup plot charges in March 2013.
President Mutharika claimed “fake doctors” had been hired to poison him while in police custody and that he has sworn affidavits of the alleged ‘fake’ doctors. Mutharika further said he would use this information when the right time comes.
“On May 9, 2015, at the memorial of late President Bingu wa Mutharika at Ndata Farm in Thyolo, government through spokesperson Nankhumwa, claimed they had evidence that I had killed President Bingu wa Mutharika and that I must therefore be taken to court. These claims are extremely serious and expose me to serious danger. This issue was extensively reported both in local and international media,” Banda said.
The former president, who has not set foot in Malawi since September, said recentky the DPP government weakened her security by withdrawing some security apparatus.
“The withdrawal of security apparatus, accusations of attempted murder and killing of a sitting President and the CCTV footage allegations are a source of great concern not only to me and my entire family but to many people both in Malawi and abroad,” she said.
“As a result of this precarious situation, my husband, retired Chief Justice Richard Banda, who was in Malawi renovating our village home preparing for my return, has since written the international community, including the diplomatic community in Malawi, to alert them about the imminent danger that I face in Malawi.
“ Malawians are aware that there is a total breakdown of security in the country where both police officers and innocent civilians are being killed in broad daylight. This scenario does not help matters in as far as my own security is concerned. “
Furthermore, she said events of October and November 2010 justify her concern.
“ During that time, when I was State Vice President, my security was also drastically reduced and weakened. On November 19, 2010, one month later, I was involved in a mysterious road accident at Kanengo in Lilongwe. This accident was widely reported by newspapers in Malawi. As a family as well as many people feel the current scenario may be history repeating itself.”
She also accused the DPP government for not providing her with any of her retirement benefits, including a decent and secure home, transport and salary since she left office in May 2014.
“While all this is happening, President Mutharika has been informing former and current Presidents as well as leaders of international bodies that I am welcome to return home and that I would not face any political harassment. However, my family, Malawians and the international community are surprised that every time President Mutharika goes around the globe promising leaders about my safety and freedom, a few days later, the government spokesperson goes public to scandalize me and make statements that contradict the President’s purported standpoint.,” said Banda.
On President Mutharika’s assertions about former Presidents of Mozambique having cordial relationship, Banda stated: “I personally know former Presidents of Mozambique, Joaqium Chissano and Armando Guebuza. For instance, President Chissano and I shared the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger International Award in 1997. I have also closely worked with former President Guebuza for the past three years. I have never heard both former Presidents of Mozambique talk ill about fellow Mozambican leaders.”
Banda advised the Mutharika government that instead of picking unnecessary fights with perceived opposition political enemies, the President ought to seriously focus on his work as there are many pressing issues affecting the general citizenry in Malawi especially the rising insecurity and crime; impending hunger; water and electricity shortages; and the collapsing economy.
“The President must expeditiously work on a transparent programme to expose the looters of the K92 billion through a forensic audit by Price Waterhouse instead of playing hide and seek with Malawians. When that is done, Malawians ought to know the truth through Parliament,” said Banda.
“I know that this is possible because we did it in 2013 during my administration when revelations of cash-gate emerged. When the European Head of Delegation, Ambassador Alexander Baum, alerted my administration about the problems with IFMS (Integrated Financial Management Information Systems) and how people may have been abusing it, I announced at ECAMA (Economics Association of Malawi) Annual Conference in Mangochi on September 7, 2013 that my government would review IFMIS. This announcement also marked the genesis of investigations into cash-gate,” said Banda.
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.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :