Africa Confidential, one of Africa’s celebrated publications, has described as a ‘pact with the devil’ the alliance that former Malawi president Joyce Banda is forging with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
According to reports published last week, an entourage of People’s Party (PP) Members of Parliament led by Joyce Banda’s son, Roy Kachale, met President Peter Mutharika to discuss the specific modus operandi of the alliance.
But the publication argues that it is Mrs Banda who has offered to back Peter Mutharika in Parliament in order to secure Mutharika’s position for 2019 elections by defeating the 50 percent plus one vote electoral reform bill unpopular with the DPP. The publication claims that her support to join forces with Mutharika will come on one condition, that she escapes any cashgate-related prosecution. Mrs Banda has been named as the cashgate’s big fish by different government and senior PP officials facing cashgate charges.
Oswald Lutepo, Leonard Kalonga, Treza Namathanga Senzani (now deceased), Paul Mphwiyo, a former director of budget at the Ministry of Finance and Ralph Kasambara, formed Attorney General and Minister of Justice have all implicated Joyce Banda in the Cashgate scandal as the big fish.
“The docket against Banda is thick,’ one prosecutor told the publication. “I am sure they have waved it at her and the best option for her is to surrender her soul and support Mutharika in exchange for her freedom.” added the official who believes the ruling DPP would advising the Anti Corruption Bureau to ease up on Mrs Banda just like they have done on former President Bakili Muluzi whose corruption case has stalled.
UDF, through Muluzi’s eldest son, Atupele, had entered a pact with Mutharika during the uncertainty of the 2014 presidential elections. Atupele Muluzi’s decision to declare Mutharika as the victor weakened any opposition and plan to challenge the outcome.
“Ex-President Banda has offered to pull President Mutharika’s political chestnuts from the fire in return for immunity from prosecution” reads the first paragraph of the article titled Banda’s Pact with the Devil
“Facing myriad corruption charges from her time as head of state, ex-President Joyce Banda has held out an olive branch to her bitter rival, President Peter Mutharika, from her self-imposed exile in the United States. She hopes that Mutharika, who is already engaged in a campaign to recruit members of parliament belonging to Banda’s People’s Party (PP), will stop any prosecution against her if she helps deliver MPs and votes for the incumbent. It is a high-risk tactic that could blow up in her face and end her three-decades-long career in public life” reads the article in part.
According to the publication, the offer is too tempting for Mutharika to refuse considering that his own popularity is diminishing following a flood of corruption allegations against his administration which threatens his re-election campaign against the main challenger Lazarus Chakwera, leader of the opposition and president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
It is understood that in an effort to weaken Chakwera, Mutharika has embarked on a campaign to recruit senior members and MPs from opposition benches.
“It is this that Banda and the PP hope to exploit” argued Africa Confidential on the understanding that the PP votes with the DPP and the UDF can also help to defeat a 50 percent plus one vote electoral reform bill which, if passed in Parliament, would require a candidate to win over 50% of the votes to be declared president. Government has said the bills have not been scrutinized by the Cabinet to be taken to Parliament for deliberation.
The publication further notes that vocal PP members of parliament such as Kamlepo Kalua have toned down on their criticism against government following the meeting.