As Malawians are still wondering if, and when, they will see their former president Joyce Banda back on home soil, her spokesman Andekuche Chanthunya has said she is not coming anytime soon.
Chanthunya said in a statement clarifying that Banda is not expected to return this month as alleged by an announcement which he has disowned.
“I have noted with great concern, disbelief and disappointment that some ill-intentioned individuals are circulating a statement on the social media purportedly authored by myself to the effect that Former President Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda returns to Malawi on Saturday, February 18, 2017.
“I wish to categorically disassociate myself and the Office of the Former President from the said statement,” said Chanthunya.
He denied that Banda is on her way back home.
Banda, who was president from 2012 to 2014, left the country in September 2014 after coming third in elections a few months earlier, and she has given a myriad of reasons as to why she has not returned ever since.
Chanthunya insists that the former president’s delay in returning to Malawi has nothing to do with fear of prosecution in the infamous Cashgate as the ‘fake’ announcement said she is coming to clear herself on allegations surrounding the huge corruption scandal known as Cashgate.
The Cashgate scandal was uncovered in 2013, while Banda was president, and led to the arrest of about 70 people, including government officials and business people, accused of stealing $32 million of government money through dubious construction deals.
Said Chanthunya:“We suspect that the said statement is a desperate ploy by some people who wish to divert people’s attention from the ongoing ‘maizegate’ inquiry. Instead of issuing such statements, we call on these people to concentrate on addressing the many social and economic challenges that have rocked our nation over the last three years.”
Chanthunya said Banda as a former Head of State “who is highly respected all over the world” deserves the same measure of respect in Malawi “instead of using her name for propaganda purposes to score cheap political points. “
He said Malawians shall be duly notified by his office when Banda decides, “ on her own will, to return home. “
Chanthunya said a statement of Joyce Banda’s return shall be issued through “appropriate channels” and not fake news.