PRESS STATEMENT DR. JOYCE BANDA RESPONDS TO ACCUSATIONS BY PRESIDENT MUTHARIKA AND OTHER MATTERS RAISED BY GOVERNMENT

I would like to express my utter shock following accusations made against me by His Excellency President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika at a press conference held on June 25, 2015 upon his arrival from Mozambique and as reported in the local and international media. I would also like to address other equally shocking matters as raised against me by the DPP government.

President Mutharika is quoted as accusing me of paying journalists to write negative stories about him; that I allegedly interfered with the electoral process in May 2014; that I shunned his inauguration; and that I have rejected an ‘olive branch’ the President had extended to me.
I would like to state the following:

Dr Joyce Banda

Dr Joyce Banda

1. I have never paid any journalist to write bad stories against President Mutharika. On the contrary, President Mutharika had invited journalists to Sanjika Palace for an interface in November 2014. While there, journalists were offered MK50, 000s. Some journalists returned the envelopes containing the cash as they felt it was morally and ethically wrong to receive it.

2. On the elections of May 20, 2014, I indeed raised serious concerns about the many irregular activities that took place in the course of the elections such as the announcing of results from other places when others were still voting elsewhere. Many Malawians shared my concerns and in the interest of ensuring a smoother process where Malawians genuinely choose their preferred candidate, I had suggested that a presidential poll re-run take place where I would not be available as a candidate. So, there was no question of envy against anyone as I no longer had vested interest.

In spite of all this, the courts ruled in favour of the Malawi Electoral Commission to go ahead and announce the results of the elections whereupon Professor Peter Mutharika was declared winner of the presidential race. I was one of the first people to accept this and immediately congratulated the President-elect.

3. President Mutharika and all Malawians are well aware that in the run-up to the May 20, 2014 elections, my administration created a conducive environment for free and peaceful campaign. For the first time in the history of multiparty elections in Malawi, I allowed all contesting political parties and candidates to use the public broadcaster, MBC, to articulate their policies and sell their election manifestos to the electorate.

4. OLIVE BRANCH
(a) The late Yasser Arafat, who was Palestinian President once said: “I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”
This was a serious quote with hostile connotations. During his inauguration, President Mutharika made almost a similar declaration about me. I take serious exception to the President’s ‘extension of the olive branch’ because he has never attempted to reach out to me if he were indeed to talk about reconciliation.

Within the six hours of his being declared winner, my official cars were withdrawn. I woke up at six o’clock in the morning without any car. In his inauguration speech, President Mutharika started by castigating me. I have ignored all this and I have told myself and all Malawians that a country can only have one leader at a time and that as a country, we must move together into the future.
(b) Since I left office in May 2014, I have not uttered any single word to denigrate Professor Peter Mutharika;
(c) On the contrary, I have endured untold political persecution and abuse in the past year as follows:

i. Government, through its spokesperson, Kondwani Nankhumwa told a news conference in Lilongwe on December 4, 2014 that they had handed over CCTV footage to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) that captured meetings between chief cash-gate suspect, Mr. Oswald Lutepo and me. This was an apparent attempt by the DPP government to implicate me in the cash-gate scandal.

I am deeply concerned with the way government has been showing keen interests to implicate me in scandals and with such behaviours there is no way anybody can see this as a positive gesture to mean peace and unity in the country.

JB