Businessperson-cum-politician Osward Lutepo who is serving a prison sentence after being convicted as a major figure in the “Cashgate” scandal, which led to several donor countries cutting their contributions to the government, is seeking pardon from President Peter Mutharika to release him from jail after serving three years of his 11-year sentence, according to an interview he game Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) radio.
Lutepo who was a high-ranking official of the then governing People’s Party (PP) and donated vehicles to the party, is asking Mutharika to pardon him as part of this year’s Independence Celebrations on July 6.
“I am pleading with President Peter Mutharika to pardon me because he is the only person who has the authority [to do so] so that I can receive the full medical attention [I deserve]. My health is not well and my conduct has proved to be good,” said Lutepo Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) FM’s Tidakalipo Programme—a weekly prison magazine series.
He added: “God forgives without looking at who did what. So, forgiveness should not be conditional.”
Lutepo told the radio that he has demonstrated good conduct while serving his sentence. He also said his health condition qualifies him for pardon.
Zomba-based High Court Judge Redson Kapindu sentenced Lutepo to a total of 11 years in prison, eight for money laundering and three for conspiracy to defraud the government.
Cashgate is the biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history and helped push former president Joyce Banda out of power. Lutepo mentioned Banda as a beneficiary of the looting, claiming it was State organised scheme where government officials allegedly exploited a loophole in a computer-based information storage system to divert up to $250 million from government coffers.
Donor countries were outraged and withheld $150 million of aid which contributed to 40 percent of Malawi’s annual budget is.
Prior to the sentencing, Lutepo addressed the media and said he had been just a minor player in Cashgate, and he urged others to confess their wrongdoings. He said Joyce Banda had used him to plunder state resources.
Banda was president of Malawi from April 2012 to May 2014 and was the southern African country’s first female president.