In a dramatic turn of events in the ongoing attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder ‘cashgate’ case, former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier Macdonald Kumwembe and Pika Manondo have advised the High Court that they no longer need former president Joyce Banda as their ‘witnesses’ as suggested earlier, Nyasa Times understands.
The two are answering charges of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder of former Ministry of Finance budget director, Paul Mphwiyo. They are being tried alongside former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Raphael Kasambara.
Kumwembe had recently named Banda as one of his witnesses he wants to cross examine while Manondo expressed only intent to invite the former president as his witness as well.
Other witnesses that the duo expressed interest to invite include high-profile politicians Hophmally Makande and Friday Jumbe.
Kumwembe told Nyasa Times in an interview on Tuesday that in the interest of a speedy conclusion of the trial, it has dawned on him and his co-accused to drop Banda as a witness.
“Inviting [former president] Banda would only delay the case since she is outside the country,” he said, adding the case has already been dragging for a long time “having commenced in 2013”.
“This matter commenced in 2013 and we cannot afford to delay it further; I want to have my life back and that can only be achieved after the case has been concluded, whichever way it goes,” said Kumwembe.
Manondo could not be reached to confirm or deny the sudden change of heart neither could his legal counsel, Gift Mwakhwawa.
In 2013, the shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Former president Banda has accused the DPP government of using cashgate suspects to implicate her in ‘cashgate’, a scandal associated with the loss of billions of Kwacha at Capital during and before her reign. Banda was president between 2012 and 2014.
She has maintained her innocence and accuses the DPP of cooking up evidence designed to implicate innocent political opponents under the guise of cashgate inorder to deviate pubic focus from the current economic challenges. ‘
The former president emphasizes that in October 2013, when it became apparent that there was looting of public resources, she dissolved and dropped ministers who were closely linked to that looting.
“Several businessmen and civil servants were arrested in connection with cashgate. About 50 bank accounts connected to cashgate were frozen,” she recalls adding that she also initiated a forensic audit into cashgate and that with the help of the British government, her government that time engage an internationally-renowned audit firm, Baker Tilly, to conduct the forensic audit.
“The Baker Tilly audit report was released on October 30, 2014 complete with names of the people involved in cash-gate. It is a public document and my name does not appear anywhere in that report. How could I have taken all these steps to fight fraud and corruption if I were personally involved? This is bad politics,” she says.
In May this year, 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.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :