Former cabinet minister in the Joyce Banda administration, Enoch Chihana, who is also Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) President, this week challenged Government that he was ready to be arrested alongside Banda.
Chihana, who was a Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture under the former Malawi President, claims Banda was not alone when she made some of the decisions that resulted in the warrant of arrest.
The AFORD President said this in reacting to last week’s Malawi Police Service (MPS) announcement of the warrant of arrest for Banda over Cashgate charges, issued by the police.
In the statement, Police said they have “credible evidence” against the former President on matters of abuse of office and money laundering.
“Running Government is a collective responsibility, because the President, the Vice and all the Cabinet ministers are involved in making the decisions. If Dr. Joyce Banda did something wrong, then all the ministers, including me, did wrong, and we should be arrested,” Chihana challenged.
Chihana’s sentiment on the matter has attracted mix reactions from various scholars wherein, some have differed with him.
Fahad Assani, who was Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the Banda administration, differed with Chihana and argues that the Police work, is evidence.
Assani observed that Banda’s warrant of arrest, was not a question of collective responsibility, since the
“Police base it [warrant of arrest] on evidence they gather on a particular individual, unless there are leads linking to others involved. Ordinarily, when you apply for a warrant of arrest, it is a particular person’s involvement in whatever suspicions you have in terms of the investigation,” Assani observed.
In his, remarks legal expert, Justin Dzonzi, said collective responsibility is a general statement and if Chihana proved there was a cabinet decision made involving all the ministers, then his claim would hold.
Dzonzi asked Chihana to prove that the cabinet agreed to plunder public resources.
“Chihana must show that cashgate was a Government policy under Joyce Banda, and that it was itself a subject of a cabinet discussion and adoption.
“If however, if the connection between the President and cashgate does not necessarily revolve around a cabinet policy approval, then only individuals who participated in that scheme, would be called to answer. All in all, the question is: is there evidence to show who participated and to what extent?” Dzonzi said.
People’s Party Administrative Secretary, Joseph Chikwemba, said it remains incumbent on former cabinet ministers who feel they were involved to surrender themselves to the authorities.
“We are yet to see the evidence the Police have (but) if any former minister feels they were involved, they can surrender themselves to the authorities,” Chikwemba said.
Former ministers in the Joyce Banda administration have also differed over the calls to put all former cabinet ministers behind bars on the basis that the former Malawi leader was not making unilateral decision that resulted in the infamous plunder of public funds.