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‘Joyce Banda arrest warrant a hoax’

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The Public Affairs Committee (Pac) and some commentators have raised suspicions over the existence of a warrant of arrest for former president Joyce Banda.

The Malawi Police Service (MPS) issued a statement in July, in which it claimed to have a warrant of arrest for Banda over her alleged involvement in the massive looting of public funds, under the infamous Cashgate.

Our investigations have revealed that, since the MPS’ statement last month, nothing has happened and her name is still missing on the list of people wanted by International Police (Interpol).

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Political commentators have said the police owe Malawians an explanation on what is going on, since they are the ones who raised the alarm on the issue.

On July 30, 2017, MPS announced that it had a warrant of arrest for Banda and that it was going to work with Interpol to arrest her.

The police said its Fiscal and Fraud sections unearthed credible evidence which raises reasonable suspicion that Banda committed offences related to abuse of office in Cashgate.

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The police said they have had the warrant of arrest since February 2017.

But spokesperson for the former president, Andekuche Chanthunya, said he tried to get the documents regarding her arrest from the courts to no avail.

“Nobody has told us anything on this matter. We have no information regarding the said arrest. We are the people who work with the former president, so we are at least supposed to have some documentation on such an issue but we have no single document,” Chanthunya said.

National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, said there are no new details on the issue other than what the police told the nation last month.

“Should we have new developments, we will let you know just like we did last time. I will not give further details on this issue,” Kadadzera said.

But political analyst Mustapha Hussein observed that, while the intention to arrest the former president could be there, it is apparent that there is insufficient incriminating evidence to do so.

“The said warrant of arrest might have been meant to test the waters, just to see the reaction of the public, including that of the People’s Party (PP). It may be political in order to discourage PP members from clinging to their party, so that they can join the ruling party,” Hussein said.

Hussein added: “This warrant raised an alarm and if indeed it is real, why is Banda not on Interpol’s list? Why is nothing happening after the announcement? Somehow, this was made to intimidate the former president.”

Public Affairs Committee spokesperson, Fr Peter Mulomole, said the police might have made the announcement out of pressure.

“One cannot be arrested without a warrant of arrest. We expect the police to be professional and explain to the nation why they made that announcement,” Mulomole said.

Episcopal Conference of Malawi Director of Social Development, Carsterns Mulume, said he is surprised that there seems to be no warrant of arrest for the former president, yet the issue was raised by MPS.

“I feel this statement was just one of those things to show off that something is being done when nothing is [being] done. It was a political statement. The Inspector General of Police should go a step further. If something was indeed done, we would have heard something from the country that is hosting Banda,” Mulume said.

Government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, refused to comment on suggestions that Banda’s warrant of arrest does not exist.

“I wish I could comment on the issues the critics are raising but the police are the right authority on this matter. I believe they have enough evidence to present in a court of law and not in the media,” Dausi said.

Banda went into self-imposed exile immediately after the May 2014 tripartite elections.

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