Authorities in Malawi have issued an arrest warrant for former president Joyce Banda, whose tenure from 2012 through 2014 was marked by the notorious “Cashgate” scandal, a high water mark in the southern African nation’s struggles with corruption.
The Malawi Police Service announced in a press statement Monday that it has found “credible evidence” of Banda’s suspected involvement in the scandal. The “Cashgate” saga began in 2013 with the shooting of former National Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo, which helped to unravel a $32 million fraud scandal.
At least 70 politicians, contractors and civil-service workers have been charged in connection with Cashgate, including 11 who have been sentenced. Some of them have claimed Banda was fully aware of the money laundering and other financial crimes that led to the arrests, including those of cabinet-level ministers and party officials.
Yet a 2015 Price Waterhouse Coopers analysis of Malawi government transactions found a total of $1.4 billion that could not be accounted for, spanning the years between 2009 and 2014 that included Banda’s presidency as well as that of Bingu wa Mutharika. The latter died in office in 2012.
The PwC report followed a 2014 forensic audit report by Baker Tilly to uncover fraud and corruption.
Banda left the country after the 2014 election went to current President Peter Mutharika, and has not returned. She remains highly visible and last week was in Italy to attend a Council of Women Leaders conference held at a Rockefeller Foundation facility. The week before that, she attended a women’s leadership event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.
Malawi police say they’re working with the international community to return Banda for questioning.
Image: Wilson Center file