Joyce Banda is a good mother. This I’m inclined to believe because a reliable source who it so happens knows her step-children, told me so. According to this completely reliable source, Mrs Banda raised her step-children up as if they were her own children, with all the love, all the concern and all the care that any good Parent gives to her children. Growing up under her was good, they love her.
But being a good and caring mother is not the same as being a good president, nor for that matter, the same as being an honest person.
Thus, while Madam former President and international darling was busy prancing around the globe, giving speeches about her role as president and what she achieved (most recently here ) and while she was conducting interviews, perfidious thoughts of treachery were swirling violently in the mind of one Brutus: the man Oswald Lutepo. For those not too familiar with the Cashgate Story (see another summary of how the scandal started here), Lutepo is the man who was People’s Party’s Deputy Director of Recruitment and who according to some people in Lilongwe, Joyce Banda appeared to have shielded from prosecution.
At the time when the bubble at Capitol Hill had burst, and Mphwiyo was recovering in a South African hospital, when the likes of Ralph Kasambara, the former Attorney General were being dragged through the courts, arrested and re-arrested as the plots in the scandal unfolded, Lutepo was safe and dry. He could aswell have claimed the title of the ‘Malawian Teflon Don’, because despite handing himself to police, it seemed as if pinning him down with anything was proving extremely difficult, according to some, because he was protected by powers mighty and high. When the name of Manondo appeared on Interpol wanted list, Lutepo’s name was nowhere to be seen, even though it was claimed that Malawi Police had alerted Interpol to issue warrants of arrest. Throughout this time the man protested his innocence, and claimed that he had no role in the scandal. That the accusations were smears by people who were jealous of his business success. The questions remained, including how exactly did he achieve that business success?
A few weeks ago, when the full Baker Tilly’s report on the Scandal was revealed (there had been an initial publication with names of companies involved in Cashgate and their owners omitted), most people who were hoping for the truth to be revealed were not surprised to see Oswald Lutepo’s name in the document. What caused astonishment was that Joyce Banda’s name was not in it or in any way connected. While Madame former president’s son Roy was implicated, there was no link to Joyce Banda. Most Malawians familiar with the scandal couldn’t believe that she didn’t know what was going on, after all the allegations which implicated those close to her, and after all the rumours about her own active if not primal role. Surely Madame president must have known something.
According to Zodiac Online, who today interviewed Lutepo, one of the highest beneficiaries of government funds during the scandal, Joyce Banda did know what was going on.
If these allegations are true, then today is a sad day for Malawi, and for Africa, because it simply reinforces this toxic notion that corruption in Africa is endemic. That African leaders are corrupt and even those who on the surface appear innocent and honest, and polished, complete with fancy hair, fancy clothes and a tolerable english accent, are inherently corrupt; as rotten to the core as their often rent-seeking officials.
There have been many casualties (including at least one fatality) associated with the recent politics in Malawi, but if the allegations brought by Lutepo are true, Joyce Banda may have indefinitely lost the opportunity to clear her name, and give Africa a new kind of leader.
While it is my wish, as I wrote here, for every penny that has been embezzled from Malawi government coffers over the years to be recovered, and as many of the culprits as can be apprehended to face the long arm of the law, I acknowledge that due to the complexity, buck-passing and treachery surrounding these type of scandals, due to the extraordinary efforts people go to in order to escape the consequences of their improper actions, we may never know the whole truth. Ordinary Malawians may never get to the bottom of this scandal in the same manner that we do not know what or how much Dr Kamuzu Banda took from the public purse.
But, if these allegations are true, then it could as well have been confirmed today that our former president, the second woman president in Africa, was a thief.