Malawi’s governing People’s Party (PP) on Friday said it was not worried with prospects of its candidate President Joyce Banda winning the May 20 polls owing to the grave cash scandals government is committing.
PP deputy publicity secretary Ken Msonda in an interview undermined the extent of the damage the twin cash scandals, Cashgate and Jetgate, have on the party’s chances to win the polls.
Msonda insisted the Jetgate is not a political or electoral issue but a government issue that is being dealt with by government officials, adding there was no need for the party to intervene or make an apology to Malawians.
The deputy publicity secretary bragged that PP has in just two years performed to expectations of Malawians and it was more than convinced it would make it on May 20.
On the other hand, presidential communications director Wakuda Kamanga, when asked in an interview on Friday if Malawians did not deserve an apology after contradictory statements coming from the President and her Cabinet ministers, he said the matter was water under the bridge.
Kamanga said: “The Cabinet ministers have issued a statement, it is a closed chapter. Let us talk about developmental issues. Are you really serious we should continue discussing this matter after a comprehensive statement from the ministers?”
Asked how Malawians should trust the JB administration and give it its own mandate to govern on May 20 when the Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba on Wednesday contradicted his own figures he gave earlier as allocations of money from the jet proceeds, Kamanga said “thank you” and hung up.
A Chancellor College political analyst Dr Boniface Dulani said in an interview the cash scandals are giving an impression of a government that is incompetent.
Dulani said the scandals were obviously going to have an effect on voter behaviour because they are going to question if they have to entrust such a government to govern.
He, however, said that people have already made up their mind whether to vote for PP or not based on the Cashgate, adding the Jetgate would have little impact as most decisions would have already been made.
Dulani, however, said it was understandable for the President or government not to apologise because that was going to expose them as an incompetent government not to be trusted again.
Dulani said: “As a political scientist, I understand their unwillingness to apologise. Much as Malawians would have welcomed the apology, that was going to worsen the situation because it was not going to do them any better.”
Mkwezalamba early this year told the nation that $4.2 million (about K1.8 billion at the exchange rate of that time), being part of the sold jet proceeds, was allocated to Farm Input Loan Programme (Filp).
But on Wednesday this week, after assuring the President earlier on Tuesday that a Cabinet team had prepared a comprehensive report on the sale of the jet, Mkwezalamba told the nation through a news conference in Lilongwe said that no money went to Filp.
This statement contradicted President Banda’s statement at an earlier news conference in Lilongwe on Tuesdaythat part of the jet proceeds went to Filp.
“One thing is clear here; either the President bought Mkwezalamba’s first lie or it was a lie the President cooked and fed it to her Cabinet because you cannot have both,” said human rights activist Billy Banda in Blantyre on Thursday.
During Wednesday’s news conference, Mkwezalamba, who was accompanied by Defence Minister Ken Kandodo and Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Hawa Ndilowe, contradicted almost all figures himself gave early this year on how the proceeds of the jet money were used.
Early this year, in the company of Information Minister Brown Mpinganjira, Mkwezalamba told a news conference that Treasury allocated $5.8 million (K2.4 billion then) to Malawi Defence Force (MDF) for peacekeeping operations, but on Wednesday, he inflated the figure to $7.3 million.
The Finance Minister, who earlier told the nation that $4 million was allocated to by medical drugs, managed to maintain that figure on Wednesday, but the drugs were never bought, according to the Weekend Nationinvestigations.
The activists Banda and Luther Mambala, at a news conference in Blantyre, said the Cabinet ministers that have been consistently contradicting one another should step down.
The activists said Malawians have been taken for granted for too long by a government that prioritised to buy military equipment at the expense of Malawians that have been needlessly dying in public hospitals due to drug shortages.
Ndilowe, during the Wednesday news conference, also admitted her office never told the truth when it said recently that the $15 million Jet money was deposited into an offshore account.
This came to light when the Finance Minister admitted at the news conference that the money never entered into any government account because Paramount Group, which Malawi owed $19 million in military equipment, duped the Malawi Government by bidding for the plane for $14.5 million through its subsidiary Bohnox Enterprises knowing they would not pay Malawi a tambala.
A human rights lawyer, Justin Dzonzi, has said the transactions the PP administration made on claimed allocations on how the Jet proceeds were spent such as drug and fertiliser purchase were illegal as long as they did not pass through Parliament.