21 September 2017

Malawi Govt Challenges Joyce Banda On Judicial Review Over Warrant of Arrest

Photo: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica
Malawian President Joyce Banda (file photo).

Attorney General Charles Mhango has submitted to the High Court of Malawi to dismiss the application by Malawi's immediate-past president Joyce Banda asking the court to nullify the warrant of arrest issued by Police in connection with the country's "Cashgate" corruption scandal, which involved large-scale looting of government coffers.

Banda has been living in self-imposed exile since she lost to President Peter Mutharika in the 2014 election.

And last month national police spokesman James Kadadzera said a warrant of arrest was issued againt Banda, saying she is " suspected of abusing her office" in the Cashgate scandal.

Malawi Police said it had alerted Interpol [International Police] to help to bring her back home to answer the charges.

But the former president denies the allegations, she accuses the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration of persecuting her.

In an application to the High Court, Banda through one of her lawyers, Bright Theu, decisions of the magistrate court that issued the warrant and the Inspector General (IG) of Police are disproportionate and unreasonable.

Theu argues that the execution of the warrant would constitute an unjustifiable infringement the former president's fundamental right to liberty and security of her person guaranteed under Section 18 of the Constitution.

However, on Wednesday September 20 Attorney General asked Justice Rowland Mbvundula to dismiss the application by Banda.

"This is not a case fit for a judicial review," said the government top lawyer.

But Theu argued that the warrant of arrest is "unnecessary", saying it is "a drastic measure."

He said: "If the state want her to come, they should simply summon her and she will avail herself to attend to any criminal proceedings."

Justice Mbundula has reserved his ruling to a later date.

Cashgate is the biggest financial scandal in Malawi's history and helped push Banda out of power in 2014.

That came after she ordered an audit the previous year which discovered that $30 million had been looted by officials in less than six months in 2013.

Dozens of civil servants, business people and politicians have since been implicated in the scam, and some have been jailed.

International donors pulled the plug on aid of around $150 million over the scandal.


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