Cashgate convict and former principal secretary for Tourism, Treza Senzani, has alleged that the highest level of the Joyce Banda administration was involved in Cashgate, court documents have revealed.
However, the documents Nation on Sunday has seen—a statement recorded by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in 2014, which will be served in court as part of the prosecution of former budget director Paul Mphwiyo—further claim Banda once lambasted Senzani for alleging that Mphwiyo was involved in Cashgate.
Other top officials in the People’s Party (PP)-led administration, including one-time vice-president Brown Mpinganjira and former PP official Hophmally Makande have also been named by Senzani as officials whom convicted tourism officer Leonard Kalonga claimed were aware of an alleged plot to siphon money out of the State coffers.
Mphwiyo, the statement alleges, was at the centre of the scheme which Senzani participated in alongside Kalonga.
Senzani alleges that Kalonga, who already implicated the former president in the scandal, told her that Mphwiyo would call Makande and Mpinganjira and put their phone calls on loudspeaker to assure those involved that the move was sanctioned at “a higher level.”
The former PS who is serving a three-year custodial sentence at Maula Prison following her conviction also questions Banda’s handling of the aftermath of the scandal.
Senzani said when she went to explain her involvement to then chief secretary of government Hawa Ndilowe, she was told to meet the president herself, claiming that Ndilowe said “this was the president’s mess, she should clean it up herself”.
She, however, alleges that after narrating her story when she finally met the president, she was reprimanded.
“When I narrated the story, she told me that ‘kodi mayi munthu utapita kukaba ndalama ndikukumana ndi ine panjira ndikutengako ndalama ija ndikundigairako ine. Kodi pamenepo waba ndani? Inu kapena ine? (Let me ask you madam, if a person goes to steal money and when they come back, they give me some; who has stolen the money? You or me).
“She also said that Mphwiyo I was mentioning would get better and come back to answer questions. Why was I trying to implicate him when he was fighting corruption? At that time Mphwiyo had already been shot and he was receiving treatment in South Africa. The president’s reply was to my explanation on what Kalonga had told me. I insisted that the boys in my ministry had done this under the conviction that they were helping People’s Party,” claims Senzani.
ACB deputy director general Reyneck Matemba
who also heads the graft-busting body’s prosecution and legal teams, yesterday confirmed the State has included the statement as part of the disclosures in the Mphwiyo case.
Matemba, however, could not immediately say whether the bureau was now officially investigating the former president’s involvement in Cashgate.
“I cannot confirm the authenticity of this document because I haven’t seen the actual document from which this copy was made. However, looking at the signatures on the document and contents thereof, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this document is a photocopy of the statement that the State disclosed in one of the Cashgate cases that are in court.
“As a matter of fact, the statement that I am referring to here is now a public document, it is in the public domain because it forms part and parcel of the disclosures that the State made to all the accused persons, their defence counsel and the court in the case of the Republic vs. Paul Mphwiyo and Others.
“Although it is quite unfortunate that the statement is now circulating around, but there’s nothing that we can do about it. It is a legal requirement that we disclose to all the accused persons the nature of evidence that we will rely upon in court; it is part of fair trial. Let me, therefore, assure you that the statement you have seen is not a leaked document, we shared it with all the relevant parties in the case I have referred to,” said Matemba.
The development coming after claims in court by Kalonga, will mount pressure on the bureau to confirm whether the former president is now officially under probe.
Banda, who currently lives outside Malawi in self -imposed exile, has always insisted of her innocence and Nation on Sunday could not immediately solicit a comment from her lawyers and spokespersons. n