Unmasking Lutepo, DPP: Partnership of convenience in Malawi’s murky tale of wrongful self-enrichment

The past week has been exceptionally historic for Malawi. Chief cashgate suspect Mr. Oswald Lutepo was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment by High Court Judge Redson Edward Kapindu for stealing huge sums of public money.Loose cannon

Plunder of public resources, referred to as cashgate, affected the lives of many innocent people and Malawi’s good image globally. No wonder, many observers and commentators felt 11 years was a fair and deserving punishment for Mr. Lutepo, described by some sections of the media as “free-talking”.

Indeed, Mr. Lutepo is an extremely ‘free-talking’ character if his public statements during his journey to prison are anything to go by. He changed his statements umpteen times. Investigators described Mr. Lutepo as an “unreliable” suspect and witness.

During sentencing on Friday, September 4, 2015, the learned Judge bluntly declared Mr. Lutepo a liar who was “consciously feigning psychotic and other symptoms of mental disorder secondary gain”.

In simple terms, the Judge said while Mr. Lutepo deserved the punishment he got, he desperately wished the Judge had given him a lesser sentence. It was never to be.

The law had to take its rightful course. In vibrant criminal justice systems like Malawi, the judiciary does not entertain propaganda in coming up with verdicts but admissible evidence laid before it. The Judges will listen to permissible evidence and not hearsay.

Shamelessly, Mr. Lutepo flatly insists that he was used by former President Joyce Banda to steal government money to bankroll People’s Party (PP) election campaign. He must be both old and educated enough to know that stealing is a sin in heaven and an offence according to the laws of the land.

JB and his PP insist that the ruling DPP and President Peter Mutharika have used Mr. Lutepo to victimize and embarrass JB in order to divert public attention from the current economic challenges. The PP once labelled Mr. Lutepo “a DPP ‘lapdog’ recruited into its high handed political scheme to finish Dr. Joyce Banda off”.

Mr. Lutepo is a confused man, to say the least. After listening to the Judge’s statement, he turned around and blamed the ‘State’ for using him to prove a point to the world that the fight against corruption and fraud is on course in Malawi.

Mr. Lutepo is now a jailed man. He, however, needs reminding that when he was exposed as a cashgate suspect, he ‘successfully’ ran away to China. He could have gone anywhere to hide. Why did he run away if he were innocent?

With the help of Interpol, the JB government pursued the fugitive. He was forced to return home to face the law. When he returned, Mr. Lutepo was apologetic. He, however, became stubborn and changed one statement after another with alarming tenacity.

A closer analysis of issues surrounding Mr. Lutepo’s trial will reveal that before the Baker Tilley Forensic Audit report was released, he had said nothing or less about the alleged involvement of Joyce Banda in cashgate.

The ‘State’ had anxiously expected that Joyce Banda’s name would appear in that report. The report may have dealt the DPP government a deadly blow when not a single sentence therein mentioned JB’s name.

Apparently, that became an opportunity for the ‘State’ to convince Mr. Lutepo to play the ‘JB joker’. He claimed he used to handover all the loot to JB at State House; he was a mere conduit, so the narrative went.

Mr. Jai Banda, Mr. Lutepo’s lawyer when he was first arrested, issued a statement on Joy Radio in November 2014 that he was surprised to learn that his former client had changed tune in order to implicate Joyce Banda.

The media reported the ‘State’ had allegedly coerced Mr. Lutepo to implicate the former Head of State in return for freedom. Other reports suggested the ‘State’ had threatened Mr. Lutepo’s wife would be arrested on related criminal charges should he not ‘play ball’.

Mr. Lutepo knows his own exact role in cashgate and that of others. He may live long enough to unmask what is necessarily not a mystery but utter confusion and dirty politics at play.

Indeed, Mr. Lutepo will live to tell Malawians that he actually became a billionaire way back in the early 2000s when he served in the DPP under the late President Bingu wa Mutharika.

He amassed plenty of wealth that time and one would not doubt he may appear again in the much-talked about K577 billion ‘cashgate’ forensic audit report should it see the light of the day.

As Malawians, we must celebrate that the fight against cashgate is being won. We must acknowledge that JB made positive contribution towards this success story. The likes of Mr. Lutepo and Mr. Leonard Kalonga were arrested during her time. The DPP government is doing what it is supposed to do; continue from where JB and PP left.

The DPP and President Mutharika must seriously work on strengthening accountability institutions and public finance management systems to make sure that the evil of misusing public resources should never happen again in Malawi.

The DPP might attempt to use the likes of Mr. Lutepo and Mr. Kalonga to settle political scores and divert people’s attention, but the social and economic problems are piling up and Malawians are grumbling.

The DPP may have celebrated the controversial 2014 victory too early and their present pre-occupation with fighting JB is placing them in a situation where it will become too late to save Jerusalem.

“Society cannot always get what they want. Courts do not exist for a popularity contest but only to dispense justice .” –  Judge Thokozile Masipa

Feedback: [email protected] ; Twitter: @thomchiumia

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The Obvious
The Obvious
5 years ago

The individual responsible for this coln is biased and spreading propaganda. These tactics may work on idiots but one of reason should see right through. It saddens me that they continue to paint Lutepo as the main man in all of this to divert from the fact that virtually all hands are dirty. He plead guilty. Hes in prison and yet the problem still persists. Why, because those truly responsible have not yet been held to account. Malawis justice system is anything but vibrant. Lutepo does time yet bakili walks free?!?!?! Get it together.

Romeo Hastings Bandawe

Truth Reveals itself

5 years ago

As far as the records stands as of today, Lutepo has sound mind.Lets wait until all things are over then you publish this article again. Those who watched MBC Tv recently, saw how JB praised Lutepo in Kasungu, which revealed that the two had a cordial relationship. Let every leaf be checked and see who benefited from Lutepo.

5 years ago

I don’t see Malawians will do anything, Politicians can steal they way they want. But Malawians will do nothing. They will just cry like small babies. Bingu was right when he said that Malawians are like chicken. How can we vote for someone we know very well that he stole from us. Malawians stop crying, if you have evidence that the Muthalikas stole from you, then do something than crying like babies.

5 years ago

CRY MY BELOVED COUNTRY ,a Malawi angozolowera umphawi ngati nyama za kunthengo Malawians stand up and say tatopa ndi umphawi ,we have a lot of God given resources but poor leaderships. OoOooooo gosh my God ,plenty fertile soil along the lake and rivers but still importing maize WHY US GOD?

5 years ago

Peter Mutharika is a hypocrite. He is just as complicit in the Cashgate as his dead brother was. Peter was using government helicopters going around the country when no other minister was doing the same. He was staying in Mtunthama Presidential residence as if he was the Prime Minister. Now that we all know that over K92 billion was stolen, he. Peter cannot pretend that he did not know anything when he was actually the Prime Minister.
My guess is this. The west will NEVER give Malawi any aid until this fool and his stupid DPP are out…

5 years ago

Bingu stole a lot of money from govt. That poor guy b4 Muluzi made him president was only a minibus driver.Where dd he get the money to build Casabranca, mpumulo wa bata, villas ln Portugal?
Dpp, first releas the 92 billion which bingu stole otherwise magazi tisamba muno

5 years ago

Zanu zimenezo chilungamo chidziwika basi. Ndipo simunati ndi tima article tanu tobakila amai.ofunika mulimbe as there is more to come.

5 years ago

Momwe zikuwonekeramu, umbava umenewu unayamba nthawi ya DPP pamene malemu Bingu wa Mutarimanja ankalamulira ndipo mung’ono wake Pitala anali minister. Ma donor anasiya kunthandiza Malawi nthawi yimeneyi. Tikakumbukila bwinobwino, Bingu atamwalira mwadzidzidzi, thumba la ma million US Dollar linapezeka kunsi kwa bedi. Ndalamazi ziyenela kuti zinali zakuba. NDIYE NGATI CASHGATE INAYAMBA NTHAWI YA BINGU, PITALA AYENELA KUKHUDZIDWA CHIFUKWA NGAKHALE PANOPA CHUMA CHA BINGU CHILI MMANJA MWAKE. DPP YIKUKHUDZIDWANSO. Ndiye kuti nkhaniyi yifufuzidwe bwino, Pitala ndi DPP atule pansi Boma.

5 years ago

The more the Institutions of Government continue to work Independently, as they seem to have done so far, the more the cashgate puzzle continues to unfold. Sooner than later more Malawians will have their eyes open to see the roles played by Institutions( Government Dept., Businesse, Banks, political parties etc) and individuals in this economic sabotage. Some people will be exonerated while others may wush to burry their heads in the sand in shame. Politicians who want to use this saga to advance their personal interests will have dug their own graves. What is needed, though,is speed on all those… Read more »

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