PP suspends Kasambara, Lutepo over Malawi cash-gate scam

The ruling People’s Party (PP) has suspended two of its executive members, Ralph Kasambara and Osward Lutepo  over allegations of attempted murder and money laundering charges the two are respectively answering in court.

Kasambara was the party’s director of legal services while Lutepo was deputy director of recruitment.

In an interview with Nyasa Times, PP’s deputy Secretary General, Ireen Chikuni said the party decided to suspend the two on Thursday in Lilongwe following their arrest and subsequent court trials.

Kasambara, a former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, is accused of attempting to murder budget director Paul Mphwiyo while Lutepo, a businessperson, is accused of siphoning as much as K2.6 billion from government coffers.

Kasambara: Suspended
Lutepo: Suspended
Chikuni: PP has suspended Kasambara, Lutepo pending their court cases

The two are currently remanded at Zomba Maximum Prison with their cases been handled by Zomba High Court.

Chikuni said: “Since they have been charged by the courts, we thought it wise to suspend them until the cases are concluded. The court’s outcome will determine their fate”.

Chikuni distanced the party from the two’s charges, arguing the on-going court cases were reflecting badly on the party.

“As a party, we don’t want to be associated with these cases. Even our President Joyce Banda has said she won’t shield anybody, so we thought it wise to suspend the two until their cases are concluded,” said Chikuni.

She also said it was in the best interest of the party and the nation at large, to allow justice prevail in the cases.

“Some of them have been wearing party colours and badges in court, which, as a party are not comfortable with. It should not look like we are shielding or we do condone their alleged acts,” said Chikuni in apparent reference to Kasambara.

Kasambara and Lutepo’s suspension, according to Chikuni, would not affect the party’s functions as their colleagues would fill out the void created.

“The party has four personnel in each position, so their suspension won’t create any problems in the party as others are set to take over their responsibilities,” she said.

Kasambara and his bodyguard, a police officer Keston Gani, and Pika Manondo, have since been charged with attempted murder of Mphwiyo who is still in South Africa where he went to receive medical treatment.

He was dropped in October from cabinet by President Joyce Banda to pave way for investigations.

While Lutepo handed himself to police a fortnight ago after being listed on Interpol as most wanted person in connection to theft of billions of public funds at Capital Hill, Lilongwe.

Lutepo’s company International Procurement Services is said to have been used to siphon K2.6 billion through ghost contracts.

Kasambara will have his bail bid determined by the High Court in Lilongwe on November 22 while the High Court in Zomba granted Lutepo bail, but ordered him to remain in custody up to December 6 to allow the State to finalise investigations.

Meanwhile, donors under the Common Approach to Budgetary Support (Cabs) have suspended their aid for the first quarter of the 2013/14 financial year following disappointment over the looting of public funds.

Cabs comprises the United Kingdom (UK), Norway, Germany, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union (EU) and the World Bank with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) participating as private observers.

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