Former president Joyce Banda has said she had evidence that corruption allegations against her were politically motivated as she insisted of her innocence and claimed that there were regime attempts to tarnish her name and legacy.
Banda, 68, flew home on Saturday after four years absence during which she faced the threat of arrest over corruption allegations in the biggest financial scandal in the country’s history christened as Cashgate, in which government officials siphoned off millions of dollars of public money.
During Cashgate cases relating to the plunder of K24 billion under her watch, some of the accused civil servants, who were eventually convicted, alleged she was involved in the scandal.
“I don’t think, I know. I have got evidence to that effect,” said Banda, insisting that some of the Cashgate convicts were coerced to implicate her.
Banda – the only woman to lead Malawi -said her four-year absence was meant to allow her successor run a stable government.
She maintained that she is clean on Cashgate and that even the International Police (Interpol) cleared her.
The “Cashgate” scandal occurred between April and August 2013 and that prior to that, there was another audit query of MK577 billion which was reduced to K236 billion theft of public money between 2009 and 2012.
Banda insists there must be a stubborn link between the MK236 billion scandal of 2009 and 2012 and the MK24 billion cashgate of 2013.
She questioned President Peter Mutharika’s failure to arrest any individual in connection with the K236 billion Cashgate.
But Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, who is also the official government spokesperson, said institutions such as the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) have responsibility over the matter and “not up to the President to ask them to do that.”
The shooting on the night of September 13 2013 of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Banda ordered an audit which British firm RSM (formerly known as Baker Tilly, undertook covering a randomly selected six-month period between April and September 2013. The audit established that about K24 billion was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In May 2015, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciliated between 2009 and December 31 2014. The K577 billion figure was later revised downwards to K236 billion in another forensic audit released in 2016.
In December 2015, first Cashgate convict and former principal secretary for Tourism Treza Senzani, who died after her release in October 2016 after serving her three-year sentence, alleged in a witness statement that the highest level of the Juyce Banda administration was involved in Cashgate.
But Banda said late Mrs. Senzani’s mansion, which was also a subject of cashgate case, was not built between April and August 2013. Looking at her income as PS, she could not have accumulated such wealth to build the said mansion as A she had been PS for a few months, suggesting that the construction of that mansion in Area 36 in Lilongwe was financed by money from the MK2#6 billion scandal that happened during the late President Bingu wa Mutharika and DPP reign.