Witness statements tendered in court show that former president Joyce Banda told Cabinet ministers to solicit campaign funds for the May 20 Tripartite Elections from their respective ministries.
The document, seen by The Nation, was authored by jailed former Ministry of Tourism and Culture principal secretary (PS) Treza Senzani who is currently serving a three-year sentence after being found guilty of involvement in Cashgate—the plunder of billions of kwacha of public funds.
Senzani is scheduled to testify in court against Cashgate suspect and former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
In her statement made to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), she explains how she personally helped steal millions of public funds from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture through her company.
Senzani says the loot was then delivered in hard cash to then Minister of Tourism and Culture Rachel Mazombwe Zulu. She alleges that she delivered about K20 million to her then minister.
Reads in part her statement: “Zulu, who was the Minister of Tourism, called me and told me that Her Excellency the President, Joyce Banda, had told her she is not going to assist Cabinet ministers with campaign for the May 2014 elections and that the ministers should talk to their ministries to assist them financially.
“I called the chief accountant and briefed him about what the minister said. He said he wasn’t aware of those instructions and would find out from other ministries. He did not come back to me and when I inquired he said I should talk to Maxwell Namata who then was already on interdiction.”
In her narration, Senzani further alleges that the Banda administration strategically placed officers to participate in the scam in commercial banks, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and Accountant General’s Department. The officers ensured that the scheme succeeded, she said.
In an interview on Sunday, ACB deputy director general Reyneck Matemba expressed disappointment over the leakage of the witness statement tendered over a year ago and published by our sister newspaper, Nation on Sunday.
He said it was unfortunate that the statement has gone public before court proceedings, but acknowledged that its security was beyond the ACB after the prosecution released it to over 19 co-accused persons, including Mpwhiyo, in a case where they are accused of a role in laundering K2.4 billion (about $3.6 million).
Nation on Sunday reported that Senzani, while admitting taking part in the scam, said she felt she was safe because higher authorities were involved.
She said after the scam was uncovered she sought security from Banda during a meeting at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, but she was rebuffed by the president. The former PS alleges that Banda instead chided her for mentioning Mphwiyo whom the ex-president insisted was fighting corruption.
Banda has been living abroad since losing the May 20 Tripartite Elections.
In interviews with local and international media, the former president has maintained she ordered a forensic audit to establish the truth, risking her political career.
Banda has been mentioned as a potential witness and accomplice in Cashgate by several people, including convicted businessperson-cum-politician Oswald Lutepo.
The shooting of Mphwiyo outside the gate of his Area 43 house in Lilongwe on September 13 2013 led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Banda ordered an audit for the period between April and September 2013 which British forensic auditor, Baker Tilly, undertook and established that about K24 billion (about $36.4 million) was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In May this year, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion in public funds could not be reconciled between 2009 and December 31 2014. n