Former President Joyce Banda Tuesday launched a fresh attack on President Peter Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, accusing them of attempting to tarnish her name and legacy by using some people to implicate her in Cashgate.
But Minister of Information and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango, has said Banda must stop involving Mutharika and the entire government in her Cashgate issues.
In a statement titled ‘Response to Mrs. [Treza] Senzani claims against Joyce Banda’ her office released yesterday, Banda said she would have wished to meet Mutharika in court so that Mutharika can prove her guilt to the world.
Senzani, a former Ministry of Tourism Principal Secretary and jailed Cashgate convict, is reported to have been quoted in a court statement that Banda and her People’s Party (PP), through the Cabinet, agreed to siphon money from the ministries to fund PP’s campaign activities.
Banda said she is not surprised by Senzani’s allegations because she has received information from several serving senior civil servants that the DPP government is pressurising them to implicate her and her Cabinet in Cashgate.
“I wish to inform Malawians without fear of contradiction that all these attempts to tarnish my name and legacy are the
works of President Peter Mutharika personally and the DPP government. It is unfortunate that as a lawyer he [Mutharika] does not realise that it is immoral to abuse his immunity from prosecution by scandalising my name. I would have wished I met him in court so he can prove my guilt to the entire world.
“Fortunately, Malawians are wise people and cannot listen to these shallow allegations. It does not happen anywhere in the world that a government forces people who have already been tried, convicted and sentenced to alter their statements simply to tarnish the image of political opponents,” she said.
According to Banda, what she considers as a major problem in confronting Mutharika is his own failure to provide prudent leadership and give Malawians the better livelihood they deserve.
“It is a lame excuse to claim that he cannot perform and deliver because of Cashgate. It is a lame excuse to blame the economic mess on natural disasters such as floods. Malawians have experienced disasters of greater magnitude before like the Phalombe flash floods that swept away villages in 1991 and the Karonga earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Floods in the Lower Shire have been perennial. But the nation has not ground to a halt because of these natural disasters,” she said.
Banda also said instead of working hard to restore ‘glorious days’ of her leadership, Mutharika is preoccupied with castigating her as evidenced by his outbursts during a political campaign in Zomba Chisi Constituency on December 19, 2015.
“Malawians need to know exactly why President Peter Mutharika and his government are obsessed with pursuing a demonization and denigration campaign against me. From the onset, the Mutharika administration embarked on a witch-hunt campaign against me and vigorously searched for any leads and evidence that would result in my arrest.
“They have looked everywhere for any tiny evidence and he has found none. In their desperation to nail me, the Mutharika administration has accused me of Cashgate involvement, attempt on the President’s life when he was arrested for treason in 2013, murder of his late brother President Bingu wa Mutharika and CCTV footage allegations, among others,” Banda’s statement reads in part.
Mhango, however, said Banda cannot clear her name through the newspapers and press statements, advising her to just come back to Malawi and clear her name.
“Those people who have mentioned her, including [Oswald] Lutepo, Leonard Kalonga, Treza Senzani and other are not President Mutharika or government. And the President is not, in any way, part of the prosecuting team. The sensible thing she can do is to come back home and clear her name, not involving the
President in such issues, period,” Mhango said.
In an interview yesterday, State House Press Secretary, Gerald Viola, said Muthraika is not involved in Cashgate prosecutions or any cases of witch-hunting.
“Cashgate cases are matters of the courts and the President has no powers on court proceedings. Just like you and me, President Mutharika is just an outsider who is watching as the Cashgate prosecutions happen. President Mutharika has no any scores against the former president. If anything, he has been extending an olive branch to president Banda,” Viola said.
But in her statement, Banda also said it is unfortunate that the Mutharika administration has deliberately ignored calls by donors to institute thorough and speedy investigations into the MK577 billion scandal and the brutal murder of Anti-Corruption Bureau senior official Issah Njauju.
“What I know is that until the DPP administration complies with what the donors and Malawians want pertaining to these issues, the nation shall continue to swim in troubled economic waters because donors may simply look away,” she said.
Banda also said the time has also come for Mutharika to respond to Christopher Aublic Ligomeka’s claims that he (Ligomeka) was among a team of information technology experts that implemented an electronic election rigging scheme in favour of Mutharika and his DPP during the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
According to Banda, Ligomeka revealed that the ‘rigging centre’ was right at the house of Mutharika in Area 10 in Lilongwe.
“The issues that Mr. Ligomeka has raised are very serious, which cannot just be wished away. Malawians deserve to know what really happened,” the statement reads.
But DPP spokesperson, Francis Kasaila, said if Banda has evidence that Ligomeka and his team did what she is alleging, she has the right to report the matter to relevant authorities, including the police.
“If she has all the evidence that a certain Mr Ligomeka did what she is saying nothing can prevent her from reporting to Malawi Electoral Commission or police. It is within her right to do so,” Kasaila said.
He also said Banda had a two-year leadership opportunity to probe the alleged K577 billion but failed.
“It is surprising that she has decided to be wiser on the issue today when people know that she had all the chances to launch an investigation into it. If you look at the period which people say such things happened, it is between 2004 and 2012 and she was the vice-president and, thereafter, president for two years. Why did she fail to probe the matter in the two years she was in power?” Kasaila said.
The DPP spokesperson said there is nothing scary about Banda and her PP, saying the DPP has no time to waste with political failures.
He then said nobody is denying that the country is going through turbulent economic times but Banda’s accusations cannot in any way solve the country’s problems.
“We all accept that we have problems. But the economic problems are not unique to Malawi. Many countries across the world are also facing the same problems. We can only be judged on what we are doing to move out of such problems,” he said.
But Banda said Senzani’s allegations are unfounded because such a serious matter could have leaked immediately Cabinet discussed it, considering that her Cabinet did not have PP members only.
The former Malawi leader also said Senzani is the only PS who was implicated in Cashgate, tried, convicted and sentenced wondering how the Cabinet decision to steal from all ministries, would end up with other PSs not involved.
“I wish to emphasize that the alleged meeting did not take place and that no such matter was discussed at any Cabinet meeting during my tenure. Cabinet meetings are attended not only by ministers but also PSs and other technocrats.
“Therefore, it is wrong to suggest that political party matters could be discussed at a Cabinet meeting when civil servants belong to different political parties. No scheme to steal government money for purposes of financing one political party would succeed because someone is bound to raise an alarm,” Banda said.
Banda has been outside the country since September 2014 and in October 2015 her office announced that her homecoming would be delayed due to the government’s failure to provide a secure and decent house for her.
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