A local socio-political commentator Makhumbo Munthali has warned that posterity will judge the current generation badly if it decides to pay a blind eye to the former President Joyce Banda’s cashgate allegations under the guise of the issue merely being government’s attempt to divert public attention from real issues.
Malawi Police announced that it had obtained a warrant of arrest from the Court against Banda over allegations of money laundering and Cashgate affair -the embezzlement of what is thought to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars from state coffers between 2009 and 2013.
Banda, who was Malawi’s president for two years from 2012, left the country when she lost in an election to President Peter Mutharika. She has not returned since 2014.
She has been living in the United States, serving as a distinguished fellow at Woodrow Wilson Center and the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.
The news of Banda’s warrant of arrest has been largely greeted with skepticism by some quarters who have argued that the arrest is a mere political witch-hunt and also the current Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government’s strategy to divert the public attention from the real issues that require its urgent attention.
However, posting on social media Munthali, who is also the National Secretary of the Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission of Evangelical Association of Malawi said the fact that the DPP government “has failed the country big time” should not prevent Malawians from demanding accountability of Joyce Banda over her possible role in cashgate, arguing that “the former leader should not ride on the back of public sympathy in order to evade the whims of justice”
Munthali argued: “As I had said last week, just as you cannot talk about the Maize-gate scandal without mentioning the name of Chaponda likewise you cannot talk about cashgate without mentioning the name of Joyce Banda who has all along been perceived to be one of the big fish – that is if the public perception survey on cashgate conducted by the Afrobarometer is anything to go by.
“The fact that the DPP government has failed the country big time should not deter us from demanding accountability on the possible role Joyce Banda might have played in the cashgate. Posterity will judge us badly for paying a blind eye to the JB’s issue under the guise of merely looking at it as political witch-hunt or DPP’s attempt to divert the public from real issues.”
Munthali added that while the DPP government might have influenced the recent warrant of arrest against the Peoples Party leader in order to divert the public attention from real challenges affecting the country as observed by some commentators, the very fact that the public call for Joyce Banda to be investigated on cashgate were initiated way back after the revealation of cashgate scandal by the media and Civil Society Organisations speaks volume about the urgency the issue requires.
“After all calls for JB to be investigated were not necessarily initiated by the DPP but rather the media and CSOs as traced as far as 2013. There was a general consensus then amongst CSOs and the media that JB was shielding some big fish in his government a scenario that prompted many to conclude that she (besides her top officials) may have had a hand in the Cashgate hence igniting call for her investigations.
“For example, just reading the CHRR’s report titled ‘Joyce Banda 20 months in office, a missed opportunity to reclaim public trust’ you cannot waste your time shielding JB from prosecution under the guise of political witch-hunt. Most importantly, the cashgate happened under JB’s watch hence the need for her to account for her possible role in the scandle”, argued Munthali
Added Munthali: “Otherwise whether witch-hunt or not witch-hunt, diverting public attention or not diverting public attention, the fact remains that JB must face the law, and as a country we should not allow anyone implicated in cashgate to ride on the back of public sympathy in order to evade the whims of justice”
Banda denies any wrong doing.
“I will be coming back because I never did anything wrong and I am innocent,” Banda is quoted in report by Reuters news agency.
“I am the only president who got to the bottom of corruption and instituted the first-ever commission of inquiry into corruption,” she added.
The former argues that while president, she ordered an independent audit of the corruption revelations, which was conducted by British firm RSM (formerly Baker Tilly) and that findings released in 2014 never linked her to “any corruption”.
But key suspects and convicts in the Cashgate affair have been mentioning her name, they include Leonard Kalonga and Oswald Lutepo.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :