Ex-ministers in the Joyce Banda administration have differed over calls to put all former Cabinet ministers behind bars on the basis that the former Malawi leader was not making unilateral decision that resulted in the infamous plunder of public funds.
The Malawi Police Service (MPS) last week announced they have a warrant of arrest for Banda over Cashgate charges.
But speaking to the media in Rumphi, Enock Chihana, a former minister of Youth, Sports and Culture under the Banda administration claimed Banda was not alone when she made some of the decisions that have resulted in the warrant of arrest.
“Running government is a collective responsibility because the president, the vice and all the Cabinet ministers are involved in making the decision. If Joyce Banda did something wrong then all the ministers, including me, did wrong and we should be arrested,” Chihana said.
In a statement last week, police said they have credible evidence against Banda on matters of abuse of office and money laundering.
But reacting to Chihana’s school of thought, Fahad Assani, who was minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the Banda administration, differed with Chihana, saying police work is evidence.
“It is not a question of collective responsibility. Police base it [warrant of arrest] on evidence they gather on a particular individual unless there are leads linking to others involved. Ordinarily, when you apply for a warrant off arrest, it is a particular person’s involvement in whatever suspicions you have in terms of the investigation,” Assani said.
Commenting on the matter, legal expert, Justin Dzonzi, said collective responsibility is a general statement and if Chihana proved there was a Cabinet decision made involving ministers then his claim would hold.
“He should prove that the Cabinet agreed to plunder public resources. He must show that Cashgate was a government policy under Joyce Banda and that it was itself a subject of a Cabinet discussion and adoption.
“However, if the connection between the president and Cashgate does not necessarily revolve around a Cabinet policy approval, then only individuals who participated in that scheme would be called to answer. All in all, the question is: is there evidence to show who participated and to what extent?” Dzonzi said.
People’s Party Administrative Secretary, Joseph Chikwemba, said it remains incumbent on former Cabinet ministers who feel they were involved to surrender themselves to the authorities.
“We are yet to see the evidence the police have [but] if any former minister feels they were involved, they can surrender themselves to the authorities,” Chikwemba said.
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