The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has disclosed that it has stumbled on evidence that is pointing to the involvement of former president Joyce Banda in the plunder of public funds called Cashgate.
In an exclusive interview on the sidelines of a press conference organised by the graft-busting agency in Blantyre, Deputy Director General (DDG) Reyneck Matemba said the Bureau has in fact been probing the former president for some time now.
Matemba said more people, who it cannot name now for security reasons, have implicated the former president in the systematic plunder of public funds.
“We are investigating any person who was involved in the massive plunder of government resources. As you might recall, there are a lot of people who have mentioned Dr Joyce Banda in their statements,” he said.
Matemba added: “Some of them are [Osward] Lutepo, Leonard Kalonga and others that I cannot tell you now because of security reasons. But there are a number of people who have mentioned Joyce Banda.”
He said even before those people mentioned Banda, as a Bureau, they had some pointers.
“And we had already started following those pointers, following those pieces of evidence,” he said.
Matemba then explained that going by what other people have said that she took part in the plunder of public resources, or she knew what was going on or she was complaisant on what was happening, they will continue investigating her.
So far, 10 Cashgate suspects have been found guilty, five of them on their own plea, with Lutepo getting the longest sentence of 11 years.
Banda has been out of the country for over a year now following her loss in the 2014 presidential elections where she came third, and observers say her being implicated by chief Cashgate thief Lutepo, among others, is what is keeping her away.
This, said Matemba, means while investigating those people, the Bureau will also be paying particular attention to the former president whom Lutepo said was the key beneficiary of Cashgate.
In an interview with South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Newspaper, last year in November, Banda said she is in possession of written confessions by Cashgate suspects, which state that state agents have been pressuring them to implicate her in the scandal.
Banda’s media liaison officer, Tusekele Mwanyongo, also told the publication that she would make the confessions public at an “appropriate time”. None of the names have been made public yet.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions says there are about 70 suspects awaiting trial for fraud so far, and many more face arrest.