As pressure mounts, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has announced plans to return to Pioneer Investment the contentious K145 million donation suspected to have been proceeds of crime in much-publicised Malawi Police Service (MPS) food rations scam.
Making the announcement at a press briefing in Lilongwe, DPP publicist, who is also government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, said the party felt it right to have the money returned because of public misunderstanding.
“This money was a donation made to the party and received in good faith like any other donation. All over the world, including here in Malawi, political parties depend on donations. It is also normal in our day to day life that we receive money without asking the giver to state the source of any money upon receiving it,” said Dausi in an interview after the briefing.
In a statement released, the party has also made an attempt to distance President Peter Mutharika who is the sole signatory to the DPP account which received the ‘suspicious’ funding.
“The said donation was also made to the party and not to the President as some people have attempted to portray this matter. The fact that His Excellency the President is the sole signatory of the account does not make the President the personal beneficiary of the funds. In fact, it is quiet common for a head of organisation to be the sole signatory
to such an organisation’s account,” further reads the statement.
Asked when they intend to pay back the money, Dausi responded: “We are paying back now,” without giving details.
Following a leaked Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) document which implicated the DPP and President Mutharika in a police food ration scandal, the DPP-led government has come under heavy public criticism with human rights defenders calling for the resignation of President Mutharika.
Reacting to the development, rights activist Gift Trapence, who is also deputy chairperson for Human Rights Defenders Coalition which has been pushing for justice on the matter, said the DPP’s announcement to pay back the money amounts to admission of guilty.
“This is evidence that they stole the money. The question is, how can they give the money to the same person whom they collaborated with to defraud government? What we have been asking them to do is to pay back the money to government coffers. This is an insult to Malawians and an act of impunity.
“As CSOs (civil society organisations), we will not be hoodwinked by this gesture. We will make sure that the law takes its course on the matter; to have wrong-doers brought to book,” said Trapence.