With pressure coming from the electorate and activists that Malawi’s opposition political parties are losing leverage by their silence on the Cashgate scandal investigations, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has issued a press statement on the same. It is published below, unabridged:
“SERIOUS CONCERNS ABOUT THE STATE PRESIDENT’S CONDUCT ON CASHGATE INVESTIGATIONS
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wishes to express serious concerns about how the State President, Dr Joyce Banda is conducting herself in the ongoing Capital Hill Cashgate investigations.
It is becoming quite clear to us that we are now witnessing a big executive white wash scheme on the Cashgate looting. Here are a number of considerations that indicate to us that this investigation is now turning out to be no more than presidential and party political theatrics to canonize all the real culprits in the despicable looting saga especially herself, going by what the main suspects have said so far:
To begin with, the State President is in charge of affairs in the country. Some Cashgate suspects have claimed that she is the schemer and major beneficiary of the looted proceeds. Come to think of it, there is no way that such huge sums of withdrawals (at times over MK1bn each time) could have moved from the Reserve Bank of Malawi or other banks without blessings from the very top. The Reserve Bank and other banks cannot explain or justify that happening any other way. Under normal circumstances 20 bn kwacha can not disappear from the Malawi’s national budget without the RBM raising a flag, unless they were so inefficient or part of the game.
Cashgate happened under the State President’s nose. In normal democracies, she should have taken full responsibility and resigned, to allow credible investigations to follow. But we are not naïve. We know that our democracy still has a long way to go especially in some people’s minds. The least the President can and should do is to allow a genuinely free, and fully independent investigation in this fracas. Sadly, she is doing the exact opposite.
From what Hon BJ Mpinganjira has said in the Media lately, the government wants us to complement The President on cash gate as an anti corruption breakthrough. They are blaming the donors for withholding aid. If 40% of the budget comes from donors then probably 40% of the looted 20 bn kwacha is theirs as well. It is therefore folly to think that the donors would do anything other than protect their aid cash from being looted.
It is most surprising that this government thinks they can fool donors into believing that cashgate was the President’s corruption breakthrough as they are trying to do with the rest of the Malawi Public. This is very naive because the donors know too much to be fooled by by cashgate government spinners.
Against all democratic norms in such a situation she blatantly violated the professionalism and independence of the Police. She appointed her “favorite boy” within the Police to head a so-called task force to investigate the looting and report directly to her. This is the behavior of a cornered mouse. It is unheard of in any democracy.
Up to now, we do not know the terms of reference for the forensic team, who they are and what their credentials are. Shockingly, it appears that the Accountant General and other functionaries who allowed Cashgate to happen are involved at some stage either at the TOR formulation level or in the actual investigations themselves.
We also hear that even these investigation teams are reporting to President Joyce Banda. This is the greatest mockery to justice and transparency especially if you remember that President Joyce Banda has been mentioned by some of the Cashgate suspects as a schemer and major beneficiary. Under such circumstances, even if it were in a primitive democracy, the Police, the ACB and other investigators cannot and should not be reporting to the President.
Two key Cashgate investigators at the ACB have been told to retire because they are 55 years old. We are not children. In fact, we have information that they were refusing to treat some Government department as sacred cows in these Cashgate investigations when President Banda so directed. It is therefore a most serious insult to our intelligence for the ACB to tell us that it was a case of normal retirement for these two. It is also quite obvious in this case that even the ACB Director is reporting to President Joyce Banda because it was President Joyce Banda’s directive to fire the two ACB functionaries.
The appointment of Hon Assani as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs also speaks for itself. This is the former Director of Public Prosecution who saved UDF gurus from prosecution in the SECUCOM ID scandal. He refused to grant permission to the ACB Director then to prosecute the UDF suspects. The President must remember this event too well because she was in the UDF at that time.
The appointment of Mr Newby Kumwembe as the new Secretary to the Treasury is also worrisome. We understand that apart from the fact that he comes from Zomba, he is also a relation to the State President. He and Hon Assani must have been brought in for a purpose, mostly likely to be part of a cover-up scheme in the Cashgate aftermath.
We are even more worried to read in the Papers that the Police task force operatives arranged a meeting between Manondo and Lutepo to convince them to be state witnesses in the shooting of Mphwiyo and to testify against Kasambara. Kasambara himself wants President Joyce Banda, Hofmally Makande, and Brown Mpinganjira among others to be witnesses in court. The State President and these gentlemen must know why Kasambara wants them as his witnesses. We also know the reason: they must have met together at a meeting which hatched Cashgate. This is why it is most outrageous and irritating to us for PP gurus to claim that Cashgate is a breakthrough in President Joyce Banda’s war on corruption.
We all know that Lutepo siphoned 2.6 bn kwacha from poor taxpayers coffers for no work done. He then bought 22 cars and gave them to People’s Party. Subsequently President Joyce Banda said publicly that beneficiaries of cashgate looted proceeds are innocent. Obviously the Police can not impound these vehicles because the President’s special police task force on cashgate can not go against what she said publicly.
There are many companies which wrote invoices and got money from Government for jobs which they had not done. This was the critical activity in Cashgate. They obtained Government money through false pretenses which is blatantly criminal. Many of the owners of these companies have not been arrested and charged with such an offense. This is not surprising because as long as the Police so-called task force on Cashgate reports directly to the State President, these offenders’ loot like Lutepo’s shall be protected. The President or the PP are major beneficiaries of the cashgate money they received. This is part of the protection or cover-up scheme in Cashgate.
For this reason, we cannot allow the Police, especially the so-called task force or the Director of Public Prosecution to investigate and prosecute Cashgate or the shooting of Mphwiyo. Their integrity has been compromised. We demand a competent and independent prosecutor in these two cases.
All these events clearly points out to us that President Joyce Banda is massively involved in a cover-up scheme on Cashgate investigations. That is why we are worried. This country’s democracy must not suffer or be suspended by one individual who must or will soon suffer the consequences of her constitutional indiscretions and misguided illegalities.
Dr Jean A Kalilani, MP
DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY”