Former president Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) has expressed fears that the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is set to persecute its ‘innocent’ members linked to the Cashgate scam.
The party also says it does not have full trust in President Peter Mutharika’s offer of an olive branch, describing it as “misplaced and mere lip service”.
But a law expert and human rights activist Justin Dzonzi has trashed the former ruling party’s nervousness, describing the fears as unjustifiable.
PP spokesperson Ken Msonda claimed in an interview on Sunday that basing on its past experience, the DPP was determined to deal with all people who did not toe its line during the past two years, especially members of his party.
“We are closely observing the events as they unfold because as a party we are aware that the DPP is preparing to go full throttle to show its true colours of persecuting innocent people.
“President Mutharika’s offer of an olive branch was misplaced because the words are offered when a country is going through a civil war and Malawi is not. DPP cannot be trusted; Mutharika was offering an olive branch with one hand while holding a gun in the other,” claimed Msonda, adding Mutharika used former Palestinian leader Yassier Arafat’s phrase of “olive branch and a gun.”
During his swearing-in ceremony, Mutharika said he was not harbouring any vengeance and was offering an olive branch to the former president and other opposition parties’ leaders in order to build the nation together.
Msonda said much as they would not want to comment on matters like the Cashgate that are with constitutionally established institutions, the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s (ACB) move to take on Banda in the theft of billions of public money was based on unfounded allegations.
“We have just heard about that but those are just rumours; we don’t comment on rumours and unfounded allegations. Suffice to say we are closely monitoring these rumours,” he said.
Msonda said despite the electoral mess, Banda conceded defeat without trouble and handed over the presidency to Mutharika in a democratic manner for the love of the country and nation building. He wondered what DPP was up to.
The ACB told Malawi News Agency on Saturday that with the former president’s immunity now gone, the graft-busting body will pursue all matters, without limitations, related to the involvement of Banda in the scam as long as it gathers evidence.
But Dzonzi said in an interview he does not entertain PP’s concerns because if some of their members are accused of taking part in the scam, they need to be investigated, prosecuted and, if found guilty, sentenced.
“I believe any suspect, irrespective of who they are and where they were, if found guilty, the law must be unleashed on them. I, therefore, find it illogical for the PP to say they will be persecuted and not prosecuted simply because there is a change of government,” he said.
A number of PP executive members are linked to the plunder of public money, dubbed Cashgate.