News / Africa

Malawi's 'Cashgate' Puts Banda's Political Future in Question

Malawi President Joyce Banda speaks during funeral service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Qunu, South Africa, Dec. 15, 2013.
Malawi President Joyce Banda speaks during funeral service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Qunu, South Africa, Dec. 15, 2013.
An official with Malawi's environmental ministry was found in his car with $300,000 in cash last September, touching off a series of events that resulted in a massive corruption probe implicating dozens of civil servants, former government ministers and business people.
 
Suspected of looting more than $100 million from government coffers since 2006, defendants recently began entering pleas ahead of trials slated to get underway January 29.
 
Dubbed 'cashgate,' the scandal cuts deeply both economically and politically, causing many foreign donors to halt aid. In a country where 40 percent of the budget comes from abroad, politicians and economists are still struggling to gauge the fallout.
 
"I suppose in the history of the Malawi justice system, we have never seen anything like it," says Bruno Kalemba, Director of Public Prosecutions. "As one who is involved in these cases — ourselves, the investigators, the courts — it's unprecedented."
 
For President Joyce Banda, who assumed office intent on restoring international donor relations, which had been frayed by her predecessor, the scandal has put her political future in jeopardy.
 
"It is an issue of national concern," says Joseph Chunga, head of the Political Science Association of Malawi. "I think the way it's going to be dealt with will have serious implications on the political landscape in terms of power configuration, but also in terms of the trust people have in our institutions."
 
Despite setbacks in public trust, both Banda and the economy have made progress: the IMF recently agreed to disburse $20 million in previously withheld aid, citing progress in anti-corruption safeguards, and 2014 economic growth projections are pegged at five percent.
 
While some suspect Banda's involvement in cashgate, her swift reaction and commitment to reforms — creation of a special police unit dedicated to monitoring public finance, investigations, new anti-corruption safeguards — has been viewed a positive step.
 
"She has moved in to take some bold measures to deal with the problem, even though we are only four months or so before elections," says political scientist Blessings Chinsinga, a University of Malawi associate professor who downplays the cashgate factor in upcoming presidential elections. "There are others who think she could have done more, [that when] she became president she would have stamped her authority to prevent the stealing. But overall I think people are satisfied with how she has responded to the crisis."
 
According to Chunga, because the corruption began in 2006, long before Banda took office, her opponents that are tied to parties in power at the time could be subject to the same line of criticism. But, he adds, Banda was a clear favorite to be re-elected before this scandal destroyed that advantage.
 
While the scandal has shaken faith in politics and institutions, Chingsinga says it may be a blessing in disguise for the country.
 
"Chances are very high that [if] all we have read and seen so far has been put into action, then the public sector will come out of this crisis much stronger than it has been in the past." 
 
Trials verdicts are expected to start arriving in late February and early March, when donors are expected to re-evaluate safeguards and reforms.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mwera
January 23, 2014 8:20 PM
Joyce Banda never understood politics! she has demonstarted that very clearly! we want kinder, more efficient, humane, efficient people doing this job for Malawi needs to develop and Joyce Banda is none of those! She really has no clue! she never did have a political career hers was kuba from beginning to end!

Joyce Banda needs to be loved so much that she actually would make a fantastic charity worker but then you would have to keep your cahrity money far away from her!


by: sambaunyade from: zalewa
January 23, 2014 11:04 AM
Zopusa mwenee hu can tolerate nonsense


by: nambewe
January 22, 2014 7:44 PM
To vote for Joyce Banda again is a huge mistake. She is not forfeiting her poloitical csreer because of cashgate NO! her political career is already in tatters but it sounds nicer to say she lost the election because she was beating corruption1 Let me correct that she lost the elections because SHE WAS CORRUPT!


by: robert frank from: rsa
January 22, 2014 4:38 PM
95% of people in malawi will never vote for joice Banda!
Joice banda is a thief she rob our money yet people every day are dieng of hunger.
There is no medicine in hospital and people are. Dieng also.
Joice Banda is a devil.
Most people in malawi dey want DPP and peter muthalika.


by: Simba Bonomali from: Mangochi
January 22, 2014 12:22 AM
Malawi govt not serious,coz 3/4 of the ministers are part of those involved so they are not pushing the cashgate scandal.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid