Government has taken note of the allegations that the opposition People’s Party (PP) have made suggesting that the State President His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and his administration induced the assertions by the former PP executive member, Mr. Oswald Lutepo, in a recent radio interview that the former State President, Dr. Joyce Banda was, while in power, the mastermind of the legendary pilferage of public resources, christened as Cashgate.
Government takes the view that, everything being equal, the best response to such claims would have been silence because that is what nonsense in the civilized world deserves. However, practice has shown that silence does not always work in our country, mostly being misconstrued as consent of the allegations. And taken in their natural and substantive meaning, these allegations are serious because they suggest that the State President and his administration are in violation of the law by subverting the course of justice. This is the reason that has let us respond.
Following are the facts:
The State President has never accepted, cannot accept, and will not accept to be seduced by any amount or kind of provocation to enter the sphere of petty politics, the kind that has characterized the conduct of some politicians and/or political parties in Malawi for years.
The State President has stated and demonstrated this stand clearly and adequately through his conduct, his statements public or private and decisions because he believes that Malawi cannot turn the arc of development and stride into meaningful progress by using the same methods and kind of politics that have failed us in the first place.
The State President is acutely aware of the unrelenting machinations by some desperate politicians and/or political parties to pursue the limits of hatred and ill-will against him, even if it means inventing and manufacturing diatribe and lies as long as they satisfy their desire to see him portrayed in the bad light.
It is not true that the State President, by himself or by his agent, influenced directly or indirectly any pronouncement that Mr. Lutepo has made, is making and will be making, if at all, because there is no need, existent or imaginary, for doing so.
Mr. Lutepo is a bonafide citizen of Malawi. On that basis he qualifies to enjoy all rights provided naturally by birth and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic. These rights include his freedom to hold views and express them. He does not need the indulgence of a Head of State to hold or make them. If the allegations by the PP are a suggestion that under their administration a Head of State would interfere with people’s views, let them be told without any equivocation that the current Head of State is different – he does not interfere with people’s process of thought.
Mr. Lutepo is an adult and of sound mind. We have no reason to doubt that he is in control of himself or his views. Unless we are shown evidence to suggest otherwise, we take the view that Mr. Lutepo knows what he is doing and is fully responsible for his actions and utterances. In any case, the PP themselves displayed confidence in Mr. Lutepo being sound by entrusting him with a senior responsibility of their party as Director of Resource Mobilisation. They could not have given such an enormous task to someone with incoherent character. Further, the PP have confirmed on several occasions receipt of resources, including donation of vehicles, from Mr. Lutepo. They could not have received these donations without question if they found him wanting in terms of believability as they want to portray him now.
Mr. Lutepo has never been an associate of President Mutharika or a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). There has never been any contact between him and any member of the DPP machinery for any business, including the suggested machination to hatch up anything to implicate anybody in anything. The PP may wish to provide solid details about such alleged scheming, instead of just making up conjecture for the love of it.
Mr. Lutepo is their member and, for that reason, it should by very easy for the PP to confront him on the allegations he is making against their leader. It is a hell of absurdity for them to avoid confronting the one who is making the allegations, and instead beginto point fingers at who may have influenced him to speak. The PP may wish to be reminded that the suggestions as are being made by Mr. Lutepo are not new; they have been made by different people at different times before him.
Mr. Lutepo was arrested under the former administration for reasons which, we were all made to believe, met the thresholdfor taking that decision. President Mutharika was not involved in making it. His understanding is that Mr. Lutepo is answering accusations in a court of law and this process must not be interfered with by what is unreasonable and unwarranted, including attempts by anybody to use these matters for political point-scoring or political scores evening up. The President believes that the country’s criminal justice system has proven on occasions that defy count thatitcan be trusted to handle matters objectively. The system should therefore be left alone to do its work without any interference.
If former President Joyce Banda was involved in Cashgate, as suggested by many people including Mr. Lutepo, it is not for President Mutharika to sponsor a scheme to implicate her. The enduring glowof truth will always expose her at the time of its own choosing. Likewise, if she is innocent, the clemencies of innocence will vindicate her regardless of how long it takes.
Despite that the State President is aware that the PP is so seized with desperation to hurt him, he has no intention of squaring up with them, and still urges the former President to accept the olive branch that was offered to her, so that together in harmony and unity we can attend to the effort of developing our country and making Malawi a better place. The President does not wish to think that politics of slander will help to move this country beyond the curve of the many challenges it is facing. Let’s all endeavour to be sensible and use our creative propensities for productive, not destructive, uses.
KONDWANI NANKHUMWA, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION, TOURISM & CULTURE