In a twist to the case involving shooting of the former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo, former finance minister Friday Jumbe and former People’s Party (PP) publicity secretary Hophmally Makande yesterday threw cold water on Mphwiyo’s testimony saying Mphwiyo was closer to some suspects than he earlier claimed.
For instance, Makande who was summoned on request of one of the suspects, Macdonald Kumwembe, told the court that he recalled that a week before Mphwiyo was shot outside his area 43 residence in Lilongwe, one of the suspects, Pika Manondo, informed him that he was travelling to South Africa with Mphwiyo.
According to Makande, Mphwiyo and Manondo were “very good friends” adding that at some point Mphwiyo was kept by Pika’s elder brother Dauka in Zomba.
Makande made the claims while being cross-examined by Raphael Kasambara.
“When he came back [Pika] told me that there was partying and wining at an expensive hotel in South Africa,” Makande said.
In an earlier court hearing, Mphwiyo rubbished the claims when they were first brought to light by Kasambara who was found with a case to answer on conspiracy to commit murder in the case.
Makande also vehemently denied allegations that he gave Mphwiyo 10 days to live after the former Budget Director refused to be pressurized to make “dubious” payments in what led to the infamous cashgate scandal.
The politician described Mphwiyo as one of the “youngsters” who was recruited while at Chancellor College in Zomba by the United Democratic Front (UDF) government which established a UDF wing at the College.
Makande also made a stunning revelation in the court that he spent at least two days with Mphwiyo at a police cell in Lilongwe, months after Mphwiyo was arrested after the shooting, and wondered how that was possible if he indeed had threatened to kill him.
“He is only my son. I was not working in government so how could I have been asking for money. Government and politics are not the same thing. I have little knowledge of the responsibilities of a Budget Director so I don’t know how such kind of payments were possible,” said Makande.
He also denied any knowledge of a role played by former President Joyce Banda in the free-for-all plunder of tax payer’s money.
The former PP official also made another disclosure that prior to Mphwiyo’s appointment to the position of Budget Director, Mphwiyo had a meeting with Kasambara at the former justice minister’s residence where Mphwiyo accused Kasambara of blocking his appointment.
On his part, Jumbe who was also a court witness explained to the court that as a former finance minister, he does not buy into the theory that Mphwiyo was being pressurized to make payments to cabinet ministers and other business people because as far as he is concerned, the authority to make payments rests with Secretary to the Treasury.
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