Lutepo claims JB was main beneficiary of cashgate
JB says allegations are false, malicious
Lutepo is being used as a pawn to drag JB into cashgate
There are written confessions on implicating JB
K92bn cashgate should not be swept under the carpet
Malawi former president Joyce Banda has denied allegations made by chief suspect in cashgate scandal, Oswald Lutepo on Zodiak Broadcasting Station that while she was Head of State, she was the “main beneficiary” of the money Lutepo had admitted he was siphoning off money from government coffers through fraudulent use of procurement systems.
Lutepo told the radio in an exclusive interview he claimed was conducted in his hide-out that indeed he admits wrong doing in the looting of public funds but that he was only “a conduit” in the whole cashgate scandal
Banda, who became southern Africa’s first female head of state in 2012, said Lutepo’s allegations are “false, malicious, defamatory “and a calculated attempt by some desperate quarters to implicate her in the ‘cashgate’ scandal.
In a statement her media liaison officer Tusekele Mwanyongo issued on Friday, she said is fully aware that issues of cashgate are presently in court and it is unacceptable, under the law, to comment on such matters – however she said considering the gravity of allegations made by. Lutepo, she is left with no choice but to set the record straight, “for posterity.”
The statement said Lutepo’s allegations come fast on the heels of the Forensic Audit by UK’s Baker Tilly on cashgate where Banda’s name does not appear anywhere in the report contrary to the expectations of some quarters and yet Lutepo’s name appears prominently in that report hence his present indictment.
According to the statement, Banda is aware that in the absence of her name in the Forensic Audit Report, “her political detractors are using Mr. Lutepo as a pawn to drag her in the mud in order to dent her reputation as a citizen of Malawi, wife, mother, politician and philanthropist.”
The former president said it has been in the public domain that Lutepo has been under pressure to implicate her in exchange for his own freedom or failing which his wife and daughter would be arrested on related charges.
Banda also said she has in possession “written confessions by other cashgate suspects” that some state agents have been pressurizing them to implicate her.
“These written confessions would be made public at an appropriate time,” reads the statement.
The statement said Lutepo’s allegations “smell fishy, especially coming at a time when there is growing discontentment among Malawians following the deteriorating economic situation. Calls for the return to Malawi of the former Head of State have grown louder and some quarters seem to be panicking hence the demonization campaign against her.”
Banda appealed to her People’s Party (PP) supporters, her family, relatives and friends to “remain calm” in the light of the on-going “political witch-hunt and machinations.”
The former president said remains “resolute as a servant of the people, particularly the marginalized and disadvantaged.”
She encourages Malawians and the country’s leadership to concentrate more on dealing with the worsening political, social and economic situation than listening to a cashgate suspect Lutepo who she said has so far proved to be “unreliable, untrustworthy and susceptible to manipulation”, pointing it that that apart from the cashgate charges, Lutepo is also answering other charges bordering on telling lies.
Another charge Lutepo is facing is that of attempted murder of former budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
The Cashgate scandal first came to light following the near-fatal shooting of Mphwiyo, who is thought to have been about to blow the whistle on the scam.
In the police raids that followed, civil servants were discovered with thousands of dollars stashed in their car boots and at their homes.
Banda insists the corruption began 15 years ago and was ignored by previous presidents yet she braved to tackling the graft head-on and called for forensic audit. She said instead of focusing on extorting information from Lutepo and others, authorities must also focus on getting to the root of other financial scandals, such as the much-touted MK92 billion scam during the DPP-area, which have had a negative impact on the national economy.
The former Malawi leader denies any wrong doing in cashgate, saying during her reign, she dedicated her efforts to ensuring that all people involved in the plunder of public resources face the law.
Lutepo in the radio interview also sounded political, apologising to President Peter Mutharika, saying he is sorry to him as he will fail to govern due to economic turmoil caused by about K20 billion cashgate under Banda rule. He did not mention of the K92 billion cashgate under DPP rule.
Banda said even though she inherited an ailing economy which was also affected by K92 billion cashgate, she did well with her reformist agenda after the death of her autocratic predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika.
“ Malawians are well aware of her achievements during her two-year reign, which included reliable electricity and water supply, sufficient food for citizens, sufficient fuel and forex, improved rural housing, successful Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), fertilizer loan scheme, respect of freedom of speech and press,” reads the statement.
Banda believes that the only way out of the current “economic political quagmire” is for the present administration to reach out to other leaders, including her, to explore common spaces and find workable solutions for sustainable economic, social and political development.
“Political witch-hunting will only serve to exacerbate the already hostile environment,” she said.
Banda is, meanwhile, consulting her legal advisors to determine the way forward following Lutepo’s allegations.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :