Former President Dr. Joyce Banda has trashed allegations made by cashgate convict former Principal Secretary (PS) for Tourism, Mrs. Treza Namathanga Senzani that she was behind the plunder of public funds dubbed cashgate, saying the claims are not true.
Senzani who is serving a three-year jail sentence claimed that Banda instructed cabinet ministers to steal millions of Kwacha from their respective ministries to finance the People’s Party (PP) 2014 elections campaign.
In a statement released on Sunday 27, 2015 made available to FaceofMalawi, Banda said she is not surprised by Mrs. Senzani’s allegations, saying she have the information that from several serving senior civil servants that they are being pressured by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to implicate her in the scam.
“These allegations are unfounded because such a serious matter could have leaked immediately cabinet discussed it, as alleged,especially considering that my cabinet was comprised of not only PP members but ministers appointed from other political parties such as AFORD and UDF. The recent leakage of cabinet resolution on the Access to Information Bill (ATI) as published in the media attests to this fact.
“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,” said Banda.
Banda said Senzani’s allegations are both confusing and contradictory citing the alleged claim that that she had overheard Mr. Leonard Kalonga, Director of Tourism at that time, speaking on the phone to PP senior officials, Messrs. Brown Mpinganjira and Hophmally Makande about ‘stealing’ government money to finance PP campaign. She claims that it is that conversation that motivated her to join in and indulge in theft of government money.
“It is common knowledge that a PS is the most senior official after minister. Mr. Kalonga was an ordinary Director who did not have direct access to the PS office. One wonders where and how Mrs. Senzani ‘overheard’ Mr. Kalonga discussing such a sensitive matter with Messrs. Brown Mpinganjira and Hophmally Makande and then voluntarily decided to join the ‘bandwagon’.
“Malawians may wish to appreciate the fact that Mrs. Senzani is the only PS who was implicated in cashgate; tried, convicted and sentenced. If it were a cabinet decision to steal from ALL ministries, why were the other PSs not involved? In her allegations, Mrs. Senzani claims her minister, Mrs. Rachel Mazombwe Zulu, had informed her about the cabinet resolution that every minister must steal money from their respective ministries. Why did she not consult her fellow PSs to confirm if they had received similar instructions? Surely, Mrs. Senzani could have spoken to the Chief Secretary to confirm the same? Why did she not communicate directly with me to confirm if it was indeed true there was that directive? Since it was a cabinet directive as she claims who did she give the money that she stole to? Does a signature of receipt exist? One also wonders why her minister, Mrs.Rachel Mazombwe Zulu’s name, has not featured throughout Mrs. Senzani’s trial and it is only coming up now?,” wondered Banda.
Banda said the whole saga to tarnish her image and legacy are the work of President Peter Mutharika personally and the DPP government.
Meanwhile Banda has urged President Mutharika to focus of ways how to serve the country from the economic downturn rather than fighting her.