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CSOs want Joyce Banda investigated

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Two of the country’s civil society organisations, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of the People (Cedep), have implored government to urgently institute investigations into the recent claims made before the court implicating former President Joyce Banda in Cashgate.

“Despite claiming she called for investigations into reports of corruption in her PP administration, reports linking her to enjoying unexplained wealth keep growing,” states a joint statement signed by Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence CHRR and Cedep executive directors, respectively.

The two say even attempts by the then People’s Party (PP) administration to portray the revelation of Cashgate as a “breakthrough” and a testimony of JB’s systematic fight against corruption seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

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“The prevailing public opinion seems to suggest that Joyce Banda is the “chief Cashgater” or the “big fish” in this K24 billion Cashgate,” the two claim.

Just recently, Cashgate prisoner Osward Lutepo and former Assistant Director of Tourism Leonard Kalonga implicated Banda as one of the people who are alleged to have either been involved or benefited from Cashgate.

“We feel these claims shouldn’t just be taken lightly considering the fact that Malawians are waiting with bated breath to see justice being not only done but also seen in the infamous Cashgate,” said Mtambo and Trapence.

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The CSO heads advised government not to be afraid to investigate, and where necessary prosecute, the former head of State merely for fear of being labelled as embarking on political witch-hunt against her.

“As long as there is credible evidence, the State is obliged to act and ensure that justice is done and seen in the general interest of Malawians,” the two say.

“After all, no one is above the law, and the notion that political power can be a safe haven for impunity would create dangerous double standards and set a bad precedence,” they added.

The activists also say that it is in the same breath that they call upon Banda, as a matter of moral principle, to come back home and clear herself in this saga.

“The former president needs to know that her continued self-exile is doing more harm than good not only to her political career but most importantly to the general public who seem to hold the opinion that the former head of State is evading justice in the infamous Cashgate in the process indirectly validating the existing public perception that she is the possible “big fish”,” the statement says.

“It’s high time the former Malawi leader came out of her cocoon and cleared herself in this Cashgate scandal,” the two add.

They also called on all Malawians irrespective of political, social or religious divide, to directly participate in the fight against impunity for the “crime” of Cashgate so that those responsible for –whoever they are and wherever they are – can be held accountable for this crime that gravely offends human dignity and human rights.

The two say there is need for speeding up of the investigations on cashgate related matters.

“The K92 billion saga must be dealt with and we need political will on this,” they said.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it will proceed to investigate in detail claims made by Lutepo.

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