Cashgate convict Oswald Lutepo has told the High Court in Lilongwe that People’s Party asked him to fund the campaign of former Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president John Tembo in his bid to be elected torchbearer in the 2014 elections.
Lutepo is a witness of truth in the case in which former Minister of Justice in the PP government, Ralph Kasambara is answering charges of conspiracy to commit murder, his friend Pika Manondo and Macdonald Kumwembe are answering charges of attempted murder of former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo.
Responding to a question on his relationship with Manondo, Lutepo said he gave over K10 million ($13 831.26) in tranches to him to source campaign materials such as t-shirts for Tembo because he had links to MCP and its machinations.
Lutepo said he deduced that PP, and its leader Joyce Banda, wanted a weaker opposition candidate in Tembo, during the elections.
“I was briefed to organize funds to help one of the candidates of the MCP convention. It was money that came from PP but I don’t remember how much. Since I didn’t know most politicians, I was told that Manondo, following his stay at Parliament could assist. I gave him the money so he could organize,” Lutepo said when questioned by Kumwembe.
While Kumwembe’s line of questioning was stagnant and did not push Lutepo to name the candidate or the amount of money involved, Director of Public Prosecutions Mary Kachale pushed him to name Tembo during cross-examination.
“What I figured later was that his [Tembo] success meant her [Banda] having a weaker opponent in the elections. I don’t remember how much money [in total] I gave to Manondo for the operation but the last time I gave him a K5 million ($6 916) cheque before the convention,” Lutepo said.
Lutepo carried out orders from PP but he was not interested in the outcome of the convention or had much knowledge that the MCP Constitution barred Tembo from contesting for the presidency saying “I had other things to do.”
It was PP’s deputy director of Political Affairs, Ephraim Chibvunde, who introduced Mphwiyo and then Manondo to Mphwiyo.
The morning court session only cemented the fact that Manondo was the go between of Mphwiyo and Kasambara at the time leading to the shooting on September 13, 2013.
Lutepo is serving an 11 year sentence after he was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the government and money laundering K4.2 billion ($5.9 million) in 2013.