Say what you have to say about Joyce Banda’s Cashgate-plagued and short-lived presidency—and many have—the little glorious part is that in the end, many feel the truth, somehow, triumphed.
In the end, enormous pressure from within and outside the country, aided by a bit of political innocence (or is it naivety), the now exiled Banda allowed the course of justice to take course by first, allowing the forensic investigation that uncovered cashgate and second, arresting the majority of the culprits including some senior members of her own party.
These are not easy choices, though. These are decisions laced with political risks but necessary and inevitable. It is Cashgate which fast-tracked JB’s exit from power and has prompted her subsequent exile.
And once the bigger Cashgate—the so-called K577 billion report—came out, it was clear it will be President Peter Mutharika’s turn to confront some very troubling ghosts.
First of all, like JB, this report digs dirty deep at the heart of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the fallout couldn’t have been laced with more cost, politically or otherwise.
Not only does the report threaten to discredit his government by implicating some of the senior officials, but it potentially could damage the legacy of the President’s late brother, party patriarch and former president Bingu wa Mutharika.
Not that the country needs the report to make peace with the fact that our presidents have done little to stop corruption or encourage it, the fact that scandal after scandal, has happened under their watch is enough indictment of their culpability via common negligence.
And whether this negligence is criminal is up to the criminal justice system to decide. But like Banda, Mutharika faces a stark choice: damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t!
First of all, any signs of a cover up or will be perceived as a sign of shielding friends and evoke fears of complicity. If he goes ahead and releases the truth—undoctored—like Banda, it will dent his party and brother’s reputations, cost him a few friends politically and like Banda found out in May 2014, a crucial election and perhaps, freedom.
But solving such conundrums is the reason why he is paid to be the chief executive officer of this country and the reason he headed home leaving his quite professorship in US.
One prays then, for posterity sake, he gets it right. For any President to get it right, one just has to remember his oath of office and allegiance to the Constitution.
The troubles of Joyce Banda after her own heroics, namely, the release of an undoctored Cashgate report, however, must currently leave us with a very confused and troubled president.