Joyce Banda in Zambia, govt plans to arrest her

Malawi’s Vice President Joyce Banda flew to Lusaka on Sunday morning to attend Zambia’s country’s 47th independence celebrations on Monday October 24 on invitation from Zambia President Michael Chilufya Sata.

According to one of Banda’s aides at her official Mudi Residence in Blantyre, the Vice President had received a telephone call from Sata on the evening of Thursday, requesting her to be part of the celebrations in the neighbouring country.

“She graciously and humbly welcomed Sata’s gesture and accepted the invitation hence this trip this morning,” she told Nyasa Timesat Chileka Airport, disclosing Banda is expected to return home on Tuesday, October 25, 2011.

Malawian Vice President Joyce Banda with Zambia VP Guy Scott in Lusaka. Photo: Lusaka Times

Sata also asked former Head of State Bakili Muluzi and his son, Atupele, to attend the celebrations but it is not clear whether they will attend or not.

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times has gathered information that President Bingu wa Mutharika’s government plans to arrest the state vice president at the Chileka Airport on her return and charge her with treason.

Impeccable information suggests that governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been fabricating strategy documents implicating Banda, who is also leader of the People’s Party (PP), in an alleged coup plot against President Mutharika and his government.

The plotters have been concocting communications allegedly between the VP and various people, including others from the military and foreign nations, strategizing on how to wrestle power from Mutharika before his tenure of office ends in 2014.

A security officer close to the plot confided in Nyasa Times on Saturday that the VP was initially targeted for arrest on Friday, the day PP’s Secretary General Henry Chibwana was detained by Blantyre Police for “questioning” over a letter he allegedly authored and addressed to Banda.

In the letter, Chibwana was allegedly proposing that the PP retaliates the torching of its organizing secretary’s house in Area 47, Lilongwe. Salim Bagus’ house was set on fire by suspected state agents on Sunday, September 18, 2011.

The incident happened four days after Information Minister Patricia Kaliati had accused him (Bagus) of travelling to Germany to solicit funds to facilitate planned and abortive national vigils on September 21 against the deteriorating social, economic and political order in Malawi.

When he was picked on Friday, Chibwana argued he was “too educated”  to author such a letter as alleged by the police. He also wondered how he could have written a letter to the VP when in fact, on the date the letter is said to have been written, Banda was on a private visit to the United States of America. He was released unconditionally.

People’s Party national publicity director, Stephen Mwenye confirmed the party was aware of plans by government to arrest the VP on tramped-up treason charges.

“However, the party’s position is that we’re not moved at all. The guilty are afraid, so goes the adage; in these circumstances, Malawians will be able to tell who, between President Mutharika and Madame Banda is guilty or not,” Mwenye told Nyasa Times over the phone on Sunday.

He said Mutharika has implicated “many rivals” in corruption, treason and other serious cases but none of the cases has seen the light of the day in court.

“Remember the treason case against his former deputy Chilumpha; treason case against Muluzi? It’s his political pattern we’ve become so used to that whenever they plan to arrest Madame Banda or any one of us, we just laugh it off,” Mwenye concluded.

Plans to arrest Banda come fast on the heels of the Sata’s avoidance of Mutharika to be part of the Lusaka independency party.

Sata did not attend the Heads of State and Government summit in Malawi from October 14 to 15, 2011, accusing Mutharika of failing to apologize for unceremoniously deporting him in 2007 as leader of Zambia`s main opposition Patriotic Front.

Sata was detained and declared a prohibited immigrant; bundled into a vehicle and driven across the country to the Malawi-Zambia border in Chipata.

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