The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has said former president Joyce Banda is being tried in the media and in the court of public opinion, on the infamous looting of public resources—a scandal christened as Cashgate – despite no formal charges.
The Law Society through its president John Suzi-Banda faulted government for ‘prosecution through the media’ saying the State has a legal authority to investigate and prosecute.
Government has been asked to let allow a due process of the law take place other than political insipiration.
Suzi-Banda comments in The Nation was in reaction to a statement by government titled ‘Government Response on ‘JB blasts APM, DPP’ dated December 31 2015 signed by Information Minister Jappie Mhango.
Government was responding to Banda’s statement in which she accused the Peter Mutharika’s administration of deliberately ignoring calls from donors to institute thorough and speedy investigations into the alleged K577 billion scam.
MLS’s president told the newspaper that the state was diluting the seriousness of the matter by taking it to the media.
“As MLS, we cannot prescribe how the former president [Joyce Banda] should respond to the allegations made against her. Whether what she is doing by responding through the same channel is right or wrong remains at the discretion of her lawyers,” the paper quoted MLS president as saying.
“ But what we see as a problem is that the State has a legal authority to investigate and prosecute. Unfortunately, the government has so far abrogated this right,” he said.
In the government statement, Minister of Information claims the former president is implicated by Cashgate convict and former Principal Secretary for Tourism Treza Senzani.
“The effects of Cashgate are still being felt everywhere in the lives of Malawians. Many sectors such as health and education are currently struggling. Therefore, every Malawian expected the State to investigate the matter and prosecute if they have enough evidence. But releasing statements is not what Malawians hired them for.
“If anything, it should not be the Ministry of Information getting involved in these issues. Let the relevant agencies such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) handle it,” said Suzi-Banda as quoted by The Nation.
Banda said in her statement that she received information from several serving senior civil servants that they are being pressurized by the DPP government to implicate her and former members of her cabinet in cashgate “in the same manner Mrs. Senzani has done.”
Senzani implicates former minister of information Brown Mpinganjira and former PP official Hophmally Makande to have been key players in the plot to siphon money out of the State coffers for the political campaign.
She alleges that former budget director Paul Mphwiyo was at the centre of the scheme which Senzani participated in alongside convicted Leonard Kalonga.
Senzani alleges that Kalonga claimed that Mphwiyo would call Makande and Mpinganjira and put their phone calls on loudspeaker to assure those involved that the move was sanctioned at “a higher level.”
But Banda said the allegations are both “confusing and contradictory.”
Banda continued to state: “ Malawians may wish to appreciate the fact that Mrs. Senzani is the only PS who was implicated in cashgate; tried, convicted and sentenced. If it were a cabinet decision to steal from all ministries, why were the other PSs not involved?”
In the statement, Banda made an “interesting observation” that according to investigations, cashgate occurred between April and August 2013 and that prior to that, “we have evidence that there was another cashgate of MK577 billion theft of public money between 2009 and 2012 that donors and Malawians are pressing for speedy investigation.”
She added: “ Mrs. Senzani’s mansion, which has also been a subject of cashgate investigations, 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. After all, she had been PS for a few months. Is it wrong therefore to suggest that the construction of that mansion in Area 36 in Lilongwe was financed by money from the MK577 billion scandal that happened during the late President Bingu wa Mutharika and DPP reign?
“ There must be a stubborn link between the MK577 billion scandal of 2009 and 2012 and the MK20 billion cashgate of 2013. This is why I insist a forensic audit into the MK577 billion must take place as a matter of urgency, especially because both incidences happened within the five-year term of President Bingu wa Mutharika, which I completed when he died in 2012.”
Banda, who currently lives outside Malawi in self -imposed exile, has always insisted of her innocence and claimed in the statement that there are regime “attempts” to tarnish her name and legacy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :