Banda fingered in Malawi fraud scandal

2013-12-14 10:30
Malawi President Joyce Banda. (File, AFP)

Malawi President Joyce Banda. (File, AFP)

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Blantyre - A Malawi Catholic rights group on Friday accused President Joyce Banda of being "part and parcel" of a massive fraud scandal that has rocked her government this year.

"We have concrete evidence and we want to tell Malawians the truth as only truth will set us free," Peter Chinoko, head of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Lilongwe, told AFP.

He said the Catholic Church had received a lot of information "from well-wishers about the president's involvement and being part and parcel of the scandal".

Chinoko alleged that Banda's ruling People's Party had tried to siphon funds from the national purse to bankroll the party's campaign ahead of a general election due next May.

He said the information had been passed on to a parliamentary panel investigating graft allegations that have led donors to suspend aid worth $150 million, amid calls for the government to make serious work of tackling corruption and restoring fiscal discipline.

But Information Minister Brown Mpinganjira rubbished the Catholic group's accusations as "not correct" and said they appeared to be politically motivated.

"I can see that somebody is trying to use the [Catholic] commission to fight his own battle against the president" and "drag her into the mud," said Mpinganjira.

In October Banda took a bold move and dismissed some top government officials including finance minister Ken Lipenga and justice minister Ralph Kasambara over the corruption controversy.

Donors, who bankroll 40% of Malawi's budget, have frozen their pledged aid of $150m until next February when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will conduct a review.

The country's anti-corruption bureau says it has arrested 21 people and is probing 81 firms involved in the scandal, which has dented Banda's image locally and among donors.

A forensic audit backed by British experts is under way.

Read more on:    imf  |  joyce banda  |  malawi  |  southern africa

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