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CSO fights for Joyce Banda’s benefits

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A civil society group, Forum for National Development (FND), has urged government to honour the constitutional provisions for former president Joyce Banda (JB) for her to return home.

Recently, JB’s spokesperson Andekuche Chanthunya said in a statement that Banda’s homecoming would delay further due to lack of an official retirement home for the former head of State as well as “serious security concerns”.

Government spokesperson Jappie Mhango earlier told the media that the house was not available because a landlord who was offering it withdrew and instead offered it to an international organisation.

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In a press statement issued on Sunday, FND states that the pension for former presidents is a constitutional issue and must be respected.

Reads part of the statement signed by its Chairperson Bright Kampaundi and National Coordinator Fryson Chodzi:

“When government is failing to honour the constitutional [provisions] of the former president and provide assurance on her security and accommodation, the nation will be forced to believe that the government is only paying lip service on the return of the former president. We will be further compelled to believe the fears that Dr. Joyce Banda has raised about her security and safety which are serious concerns for a person of her stature.”

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The statement adds that when President Peter Mutharika delivered a public lecture to Yale University on the sidelines of the 2015 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recently, he indicated that the former president was free to return home at any time and that government would accord her all the benefits entitled to her office.

“It is sad to note that recent media reports have gone contrary to the position of the President and there are indications that the government has withdrawn the house that was meant for the former president in Area 10 and there has not been any assurance of reinstating of her security detail. This has prompted the former president to cancel her planned return to Malawi in October 2015,” reads the statement.

The statement also observes that JB’s return is crucial to the development of the country as so many issues will be dealt with, including Cashgate.

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