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Government takes on Joyce Banda again

The DPP led government has again written former president Joyce Banda, who is on a self-imposed exile abroad, warning her on the importance of observing confidentiality and secrecy in her day to day conduct as a former head of state.

The latest communication from the Office of the President and Cabinet, signed by Secretary to the President and Cabinet Lyold Muhara, follows another warning that was issued to her in June this year.

In the second letter, dated August 2, 2017 reference number CAB/PP/3 under the subject ‘observance of confidentiality and secrecy’ that Malawi News has seen, Muhara reveals that the letter requesting Banda to observe the oath of secrecy was written to all former heads of state.

“I have the honour to refer to my letter of even reference dated 21st June 2017 to Your Excellency regarding the oath of secrecy. Firstly, I wish to inform Your Excellency that the same letter was written to all former presidents and former vice presidents to simply remind them of the importance of observing confidentiality and secrecy in their day to day conduct. As such the letter did not in any way single you out,” said Muhara.

The first letter had more or less similar message from Muhara

“I wish to highlight that the oath of secrecy that Your Excellency undertook when in office is still binding after Your Excellency relinquished your duties as president of the Republic of Malawi. In view of this, I would like to respectfully remind Your Excellency to refrain from commenting or divulging any information that Your Excellency were privileged to know while serving as president of the Republic of Malawi,” reads the first letter.

It adds: “Avoid sharing with the general public any information that Your Excellency acquired while serving in the Office of the President. It should be noted that it is a misdemeanour to share privileged information for the benefit of any foreign power, person or institution in any other manner prejudicial to the interests of state,” reads part of the letter.

Banda’s spokesperson Andekuche Chanthunya Friday refused to comment on the letter.

“We are not commenting on this letter,” he said.

Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi claimed in an interview yesterday all heads of state swear to secrecy upon ascending to the position.

Dausi further accused Banda of buying public sympathy, arguing government is in no way victimizing her.

“You see, the first letter of oath of secrecy was sent to all heads of state, how her letter found its way to the media is a call for concern because that in itself is a worrisome development. According to the law, they are supposed to observe secrecy at all costs because they were serving Malawians when they were heads of state, and the letter was coming in as a reminder, nothing personal,” he said.

Chancellor College law professor Edge Kanyongolo said the Constitution of Malawi does not prescribe oath of secrecy for heads of state.

“The Constitution certainly does not prescribe oath of secrecy. So if there is an oath of secrecy that is administered to the head of state, I am not immediately aware of what the legal basis of such an oath is,” he said in an interview Friday.

In July police announced that they have a warrant of arrest for Banda and claimed to have issued a red note to International Police (Interpol) seeking Banda’s arrest following investigations by the Fiscal and Fraud Section into the suspected involvement of Banda in Cashgate.

But until today, no one has seen the warrant of arrest after Interpol claimed ignorance.

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