Malawi gov’t says JB death threats not PR stunt for sympathy

President Joyce Banda’s adviser on communication and political affairs Elias Wakuda Kamanga has dismissed critics who have labelled the Head of State’s claims of an assassination plot against her as publicity stunt to garner public sympathy.

Political scientist Dr Henry Chingaipe on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) on Monday, described the death threats to the President as strange while civil rights activist Rafiq Hajat through The Nation questioned Banda’s reamrks during interdenominational Prayers at Comesa Hall in Blantyre last Friday that she has received deaths threats on several occasions.

The critics view the President’s remarks as a tactic to divert people’s attention from the ills bedevilling the nation including the cashgate scandal.

But Kamanga quashed such criticism and also criticised Joy Radio for suggesting that the President’s remarks on death threats would instill fear in the citizenry, saying  the reality is to the contrary.

President Banda: Claims  receiving death threats
President Banda: Claims receiving death threats

Kamanga said President Banda is the first and only leader in Malawi who has demonstrated with concrete action to fight corruption by among several acts not shielding those suspected to be involved regardless of their status or proximity to her; strengthening all accountability institutions, and seeking foreign help in terms of cleaning up the systems.

“Fighting corruption is not an easy task. It is a dangerous endeavour because it entails that those involved face the threat of losing their wealth, change of life styles and rotting in jail. For this reason, they mount resistance which includes destroying evidence, trying to corrupt law enforcers, and most importantly eliminating those pursuing
them. This is not peculiar to Malawi, it happens world over,” said Kamanga.

He added: “To suggest that the President is making up the story of receiving death threats in order to appeal to the sympathies of the people in an election season is nothing more than an expression of ignorance about the risks a person in her position faces.

“For what is known, she is not the first Head of State to receive death threats. Some leaders have survived assassination attempts. Others have survived gun attacks or bomb blasts, among others,” he said.

Minister of Home Affairs Uladi Mussa said security agencies are working on the issues which first came into the public domain in October when Minister of Information Brown Mpinganjira alleged that the President had been receiving death threats, some of which originated from outside the country.

President Banda has claimed she is targeted since waging war against corruption and that her officers were forced to change her telephone numbers and tighten her security in the wake of the threats.

The Malawi leader  has vowed to continue the fight against graft, floating the idea of special corruption tribunals and saying a forensic audit under way by British experts would help reveal the extent of graft.

In late 2013 Banda dissolved her entire cabinet, sacking four ministers, amid allegations top government officials embezzled millions of taxpayer dollars.

Former budget director in the Ministry of Finance, Paul Mphwiyo, was shot outside his home, something that produced a chain reaction of events leading to cashgate.

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