Former Malawian President Joyce Banda named as witness in Cashgate Case

JB-abitiThis morning’s Nation newspaper has a cover story in which former president of Malawi Joyce Banda has been named yet again as a witness in the court case against Pika Manondo.

Manondo is being accused as involved in the plot to kill former budget director Paul Mphwiyo; an attempted murder that unravelled the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill by public officials including civil servants and cabinet ministers, locally dubbed Cashgate scandal.

Joyce Banda was first named a witness in the Cashgate related case against former minister of justice and constitutional affairs Ralph Kasambara, but she refused to testify. She had claimed a few hours after the shooting that she knew people who had shot Mphwiyo, but later retracted her claim, saying she knew that the people were enemies of Malawi. Legal experts say her comments may lead to a charge of contempt of court if she subsequently does not show up after being summoned to appear as a witness. Unlike before, when she had presidential immunity, she currently cannot claim such protections as a former president – a cause some people believe drove her to leave the country soon after the elections.

It will be interesting what will happen this time around, since she has not returned to Malawi since leaving after losing the May 2014 elections. Further, Paul Mphwiyo is now answering charges of Tax evasion and corruption, and does not appear to be the victim Malawians were first led to believe.

What is strange with the news about Banda being summoned is that the report quotes Manondo’s lawyer as saying that discussions as to whether to summon Banda or not have not been concluded by the defence??

More information can be found here (Malawi Nation).

A High Court reporter who travels with important court documents

bgWhen it doesn’t rain, it pours. Almost everyday, a scandal emerges in Malawi that shows the level of incompetency and dysfunction that exists on all levels. Yesterday Zodiac online posted this on their Facebook page:

A high court reporter in Lilongwe says she has been robbed of recorders and other court documents containing various cases. The court reporter, has told this Zodiak online reporter that the thieves have made away with two recorders that contain court information on Cashgate cases and also the ongoing Paul Mphwiyo attempted-murder case.The robbery is said to have occurred Tuesday mid-day at the Crossroads Complex where her vehicle was forced open.
She has since reported the matter to Lilongwe police station where authorities have told Zodiak Online they need sometime before making a public comment on the matter.

What was she doing with the court recorders at the Crossroads Complex? Should classified court documents be carried around to public venues recklessly like that? When the case at hand is so important? And why should a court reporter have access to court documents anyway? Shouldn’t such information be kept within the court, each time a day’s deliberations had finished. Hidden away in a locked safe, and protected from any partisan interference? To be accessed only when it is necessary to do so.

I’m not convinced. Something smells funny. Also, in any case why should anyone believe this story? What if it’s a heist? Planned by some people with the sole aim of derailing the court process. What is the difference between this and the files of the trial of Muluzi, which are also said to have gone missing?

As the record stands, previous governments in Malawi have not been particularly good at concluding corruption investigations, and in some cases judges have been inefficient, if not negligent when it comes to getting to the bottom of cases. In almost all of such cases, missing evidence was one of the major limiting factors terminating the trials.

The stupid woman should be fired, and the alleged backups better be real (not imagined like the CCTV evidence of State House).

Otherwise all hell will break loose…

The people who stand accused in the Cashgate Scandal are answering charges of stealing millions of dollars at the expense of Malawians. This is a serious charge. Yet look now – you want to set them free without a trial. Just like you’ve done with Bakili Muluzi, and many others in the past. Grow up Malawians. Siutchale ayi, ndi uchitsiru.

How are foreigners supposed to take us seriously with such silliness?

A Public Affairs Committee (PAC) where government ministers are booed

The government in Malawi may have sunk to a new low. There was a Public Affairs Committee (PAC) last week where two ministers representing the government of Malawi, Fahad Assani and Maxwell Mkwezalamba were booed by attendees, which included members of CSO organisations.

The conference was organised following the government’s failure to provide Malawians with convincing answers regarding the Cashgate scandal, and the forensic report.

Among the highlights / questions posed in the conference were:

  • Demands as to why the police have not arrested former budget director Paul Mphwiyo, when he is heavily implicated, and whether he was being protected?
  • Why government had not impounded the property of businessman, Oswald Lutepo – who is implicated in the cashgate scandal?
  • Why law enforcers have not impounded 22 vehicles which Lutepo donated to the ruling People’s Party, when there is evidence that the money he used to acquire those vehicles was looted at Capital Hill ?
  • When cashgate cases will be concluded, and those guilty prosecuted?
  • Why the government could not account for, or was failing to clearly explain where the proceeds from the presidential jet sale had gone. President Joyce Banda had promised to sell the jet which Bingu wa Mutharika had bought, and the government of Malawi had disclosed that the jet had been sold to Bohnox enterprises, an arms dealer. Yet there was no evidence of transfer of funds, and on more than one occasion the president was seen using the same jet, to the surprise of many Malawians.

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