BLANTYRE. – Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda will arrive home this week after four years of self-imposed exile that saw an arrest warrant issued against her for alleged corruption, her party said on Monday.
Nowa Chimpeni, a spokesperson for Banda’s People’s Party (PP) told local media she was returning to rebuild the party ahead of May 2019 elections.
“I can confirm to our followers and Malawians at large that the former president of this country Dr Joyce Banda will be arriving in this country on Saturday,” Chimpeni said.
He added that Banda intended to “reorganise her party” after many members abandoned it for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) during her four-year absence, in which she lived in the United States, South Africa and Britain.
Malawi police which issued an arrest warrant for former president Joyce Banda in connection with the country’s “Cashgate” corruption scandal, which involved large-scale looting of government coffers, say it remains valid and can be executed once Banda return home on Saturday.
Last July, police issued an arrest warrant against Banda, saying her alleged offences were part of Cashgate. But early this year, the Anti-Corruption Bureau said it had no solid evidence against her, partly clearing her of wrongdoing.
A police spokesman James Kadadzera said they would make no comment on the matter until Banda was back in the country.
However, in an application to the High Court, Banda through one of her lawyers, argued that the decisions of the magistrate court that issued the warrant and the Inspector General (IG) of Police are disproportionate and unreasonable.
They argued that the execution of the warrant would constitute an unjustifiable infringmement the former president’s fundamental right to liberty and security of her person guaranteed under Section 18 of the Constitution.
Banda made strenuous effort to obtain a copy of the warrant of arrest, but the authorities have either ignored or refused or otherwise failed to furnish them with a copy of the same.
Cashgate, a corruption scandal in which senior government officials siphoned millions of dollars from state coffers, was uncovered in 2013, while Banda was president.
But Banda made an observation that according to investigations, cashgate occurred between April and August 2013 and that prior to that, “we have evidence that there was another cashgate of MK577 billion theft of public money between 2009 and 2012 that donors and Malawians are pressing for speedy investigation.”
Banda has always insisted of her innocence in Cashgate and claimed that they are “attempts” to tarnish her name and legacy. – Nyasa Times/AFP/HR