The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has taken its brinkmanship game to another level by resorting to cook up evidence to link former president Joyce Banda to the infamous theft of public money popularly known as the ‘Cashgate scandal’.
During his inauguration as President earlier this year, Prof Peter Mutharika declared that dealing with Cashgate would be on top of his list of priorities.
It is now months down the line and President Mutharika has not moved an inch on Cashgate, except for dismissing the top public officers who were at the centre of Cashgate investigation and prosecution.
An observer wondered the reasoning behind the dismissal of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General and the Director of the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) when Cashgate matters had not been completed.
According to reliable sources, a deal has now been struck between the state and the main suspect in the Cashgate scam, Oswald Lutepo, to implicate the former president in exchange for freedom for Lutepo and his co-accused, who include former Justice Minister, Ralph Kasambara.
A series of meetings held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe last week between Lutepo and Kasambara on one hand and President and his team including the Attorney General, Kalekeni Kaphale, among others, on the other, formulated the ‘master plan’ to arrest the first woman President in Malawi and Southern Africa.
“The plan is to arrest Joyce Banda on her return from her international trip, which has taken her to South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom. The prime objective of the scheme is to ensure that Banda loses friends here in Malawi as well as abroad. They want her to become a ‘political lame duck’ without voice and international backing.
“Upon her arrest, the state would connive with some sections of the judiciary to put stringent bail conditions against her, including confiscating her passport, to restrict her movements,” said one of the sources, closest to the plot.
Lutepo has agreed that in the ongoing case, he will ‘spill the beans’ that he used to ‘remit’ to the former president all the proceeds from his alleged dubious dealings with Government.
“On a weekly basis, he will allege, he gave the former president MK300 million,” said the source.
The sources say, so far, it seems the DPP will only manage to deploy Lutepo as a witness to frame Joyce Banda. The other accused, including Kasambara, are part of the plot “but have not agreed to be witnesses against Banda” because of lack of credible evidence that would directly implicate the former Head of State.
Recently, the AG Kaphale declared Lutepo as “an unreliable witness” for lying under oath in the same matter.
“Suddenly this (Lutepo) will now become a reliable witness? This shows there must be a lot of confusion, contradiction and desperation on the part of the state. It only shows that the DPP administration’s intention is to ‘persecute’ Joyce Banda based on politics and not ‘prosecute’ her based on the available evidence,” said a Blantyre-based lawyer, who sought anonymity.
The lawyer said that in order to strengthen their ‘case’ against JB, state agents have compiled a ‘fake’ Baker Tilly Report that has various names of alleged Cashgate culprits, including Joyce Banda’s.
The fake report has gone viral on the social media, apparently preparing the minds of Malawians on the impending arrest of the former President.
According to the lawyer, Joyce Banda does not appear anywhere in the authentic Baker Tilly Report, which Nyasa Times has also seen.
Minister of Justice, Samuel Tembenu, told Parliament on October 3 that the state would soon arrest “high profile” people suspected to have benefited from Cashgate.
Following the discovery in 2013 of irregularities by staff of the Accountant General during a routine examination, the then President Banda, swiftly acted on allegations of fraud, corruption and theft of public resources. Through support from the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department for International Development (DFID), the Banda administration engaged Baker Tilly Business Services Limited (Baker Tilly) to provide forensic and system security audit services.
The plot against the former President, according to state sources, follows concerns by the President, through his cabinet ministers, Dr. George Chaponda and Patricia Kaliati, that the former President’s presence at the UN General Assembly had overshadowed his own.
Chaponda is quoted by the media as having said the President “was embarrassed”. Kaliati alleged that Banda “always follows President Mutharika”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :