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Government, police must tread carefully on Joyce Banda

We all know that Joyce Banda’s (JB) presidency was not devoid of corrupt practices. Some of the major Cashgate cases originated from her administration and she herself helped unravel the scandal.

Prosecutions, pending cases and countless court documents are there to prove that. But that, for any reason, is not a licence for this Democratic Progressive Party-led government to handle her alleged involvement and supposed ‘warrant of arrest’ in a sloppy and slipshod manner like has been the case.

JB’s warrant of arrest, as much as was received with contentment from some quarters who opine that she ought to be answerable for some of the evils in her tenure, has raised more questions than answers.

Already, the fact that it was police and not the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) or Director of Public Prosecutions, that issued the warrant of arrest, raises questions on the credibility of the warrant itself. Then a day later, the ACB distanced itself from the case, disclosing that the case for which the warrant was issued was being investigated by the police alone; yet similar cases against JB are actually being investigated jointly by the two bodies. Then, despite being red-listed, International Police (Interpol) still does not have her on its list of wanted people as is the norm, raising even more questions on what other crucial facts the police are not telling this nation. Even analysts, while applauding the move as a sign of progress in Cashgate cases, have questioned the manner and timing of the warrant, observing that the fact that her self-imposed exile is even based on allegations of political witch-hunt is worrisome.

With tripartite elections pending and election fever fast crippling in, DPP government should not make Malawians apprehensive by acting suspiciously; one wonders the timing of the so-called ‘credible evidence’ against Madame Banda.

We are not saying she is innocent. Her innocence or guilt could only be proven in a court of law. Our point is: let this process be fair, credible and free from any political influence. Whatever political strategies may be sketched behind the scenes, let them not smear their ugly faces on justice and freedom of any Malawian, including the former president.

Whether JB’s warrant is genuine or not, this country faces enormous challenges that need urgent redress and permanent solutions. No political party, police or any institution should redirect our attention from that reality, just for political gains. The government, police, ABC and everyone involved must know that Malawians are watching and watching carefully.

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