The announcement this week by the Malawi Police Service (MPS) that had obtained a warrant of arrest for former president Dr Joyce Banda for her alleged role in the 2013 ‘Cashgate’ clearly shows the DPP-led government is suffering from selective amnesia.
For starters, that the DPP-led government wants JB locked away on any possible opportunity has long been its agenda. The scheme has been to ensure that the former president is incarcerated, at all costs, first for opposing the candidacy of Peter Mutharika, as a DPP presidential candidate, during the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s second tenure.
For her strong opposition to the scheme, she was vilified, demonized and expelled from the DPP on allegations that she was running a parallel structure within the party.
Unfortunately for Bingu and the DPP, she could not be fired as State Vice-President of the Republic of Malawi. And as fate would have it, on Bingu’s death in April 5, 2012, the inevitable and undoubtedly the most dreaded thing for DPP and its machinery happened. JB ascended to the Presidency of the Republic of Malawi. But not before an attempt to keep her in the woods through what is popularly known as the Midnight Six scheme was outmaneuvered. This, sadly, included concealing Bingu’s death for a whopping two days. How all this happened could be a subject for another day.
This week in his speech at a DPP’s fundraising Blue Night, APM vaguely alluded to Bingu’s death as an act of betrayal by some people. Whatever he meant! For all we know Bingu died after suffering from a cardiac arrest.
As President, JB instituted a commission of inquiry to probe events leading to and after Bingu’s death and attempts to prevent her from taking over the mantle of power. The inquiry implicated APM and others. They were arrested and charged with treason. But before the case could be concluded, APM became President of Malawi in the 2014 elections a development that essentially nullified any treason case against him.
Before long Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa claimed in 2015 he had CCTV footage which showed Cashgate convict Oswald Lutepo carting cartons of money to JB at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe. Nankhumwa further alleged that a copy of the CCTV footage was delivered to the Anti-Corruption Bureau. But to his shame, to date, ACB says it has not received the tape. Why has Nankhumwa not made more copies of the footage for all and sundry to believe his narrative if the one that he sent to ACB was lost? For all we know, CCTV had long stopped functioning at Kamuzu Palace.
Lutepo is one of the Cashgate convicts serving jail time in connection with the looting of coffers at Capital Hill. Lutepo was convicted and sentenced after a forensic audit by Baker Tilly which JB instituted showed that K24 billion was looted from State coffers between April and September 2013. Lutepo and two other ‘Cashgate’ convicts have implicated JB in the scam.
But the Baker Tilly audit only focused on a period of six months. When the larger picture came into view it was discovered that the K24 billion looted from State coffers in 2013 was just a tip of the iceberg.
A forensic audit on the K577 billion conducted by RSM Risk Assurance Services LLP of the UK revealed that K236 billion was looted between 2009 and 2014; essentially meaning that looting of government coffers started during Bingu’s reign.
But to date, not a single person has been arrested in connection with the 2009—2014 looting. And the DPP-led government has been using all tricks in the book to thwart any meaningful progress on the matter. Not surprisingly because some of the people involved in the K236 billion looting are likely to be in government now. It is against this background that some people see the warrant of arrest for JB as political witch hunting and double dealing. But that said DPP is not only afraid of JB, it is fighting tooth and nail to ensure all other opposition leaders don’t come anywhere near the State House. Reason? To continue sweeping the K236 billion scam under the carpet—DPP’s selective amnesia.