The issue of Cashgate took centre-stage in Paul Mphwiyo’s shooting case Wednesday as convicted money launderer Oswald Lutepo took to the stand and alleged that former president Joyce Banda offered Malawi Congress Party (MCP) ex-president John Tembo at least K15 million to assist him win MCP party president elections during its convention in 2013.
Ironically, Tembo did not contest for the party’s presidency during the said convention, as a proposal to have him contest for the third time as party presidential candidate was defeated by delegates.
The logic behind the move, according to Lutepo, was to have MCP field a weaker candidate so that Banda’s People’s Party (PP) should not face a strong opponent during the May 2014 presidential elections.
Lutepo, who is serving an 11-year jail term for defrauding government K4.2 billion, also implicated another suspect, Pika Manondo, who he alleged was behind the operation to facilitate the printing of campaign materials for Tembo.
“We used the money which was plundered from government. I was a businessperson and so Manondo was given the task of organising everything because he knew politicians and people in MCP better after his stay at Parliament. There was also another person, a Mr Ndovi, who was to supply T-shirts,” Lutepo told a fully packed High Court in Lilongwe.
Lutepo, who is a witness of truth in the case, also made a stunning revelation that he was the first person to call Banda on September 13, 2013 soon after Mphwiyo was shot outside his Area 43 residence.
“Mphwiyo’s wife called to inform me that Paul had been shot; and I am the one who called Joyce Banda informing her that Mphwiyo had been shot. I felt duty-bound to call all people who were friends with Paul. I called everyone who would be concerned that he had been shot,” said Lutepo.
Seated in his wheel-chair and wearing a blue suit, Lutepo, however, said Banda rebuked him after she heard that he had visited Mphwiyo in hospital, arguing that as a politician, it was not politically right.
Lutepo also claimed that he was owed money by government after supplying goods to Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and that he was facing hurdles to be paid.
“That’s the time I was introduced to Pika Manondo by Ephraim Chibvunde. Manondo told me that if I played ball, I would be assisted to get my payment. I was introduced to Cashgate by Pika Manondo,” he said.
He also revealed that he was getting money from Mphwiyo to make dubious payments and that he could not know all beneficiaries of Cashgate money.
In his statement, Lutepo also dragged former Deputy Inspector General of police Nelson Bophani in the mud, alleging that the former police boss forced him to implicate another suspect Ralph Kasambara in Cashgate.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mary Kachale, and Kasambara had bitter exchanges a number of times, particularly after Kachale disclosed that she was shaken following an accusation by Kasambara that she was the one who put him in prison.
Earlier Judge Michael Mtambo shot down Kasambara’s request to have access to his personal laptop whilst on remand in prison to help him in proper management of the case.
Kasambara also pleaded with the presiding Judge to restore his bail, saying he had been punished enough, arguing that four months and two weeks in prison was too much compared to the crime he committed in intruding privacy of the Judge.
Mtambo has since instructed Kasambara to make a formal application.
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