Tag Archives: Malawi cashgate

Malawi – why won’t Joyce Banda come home – security or Cashgate?

African Arguments

Supporters of former President Joyce Banda welcome visitors ahead of a summit in Malawi. Credit: GCIS.

Supporters of former President Joyce Banda welcome visitors ahead of a summit in Malawi. Credit: GCIS.

As we approach the start of 2016, Malawians are still wondering if, and when, they will see their former president Joyce Banda back on home soil.

Banda, who was president from 2012 to 2014, left the country in September 2014 after coming third in elections a few months earlier, and she has given a myriad of reasons as to why she has not returned ever since.

To begin with, Banda travelled extensively, delivering speeches and working on her charity, the Joyce Banda Foundation. In April, she said she would return to Malawi as soon as she finished her remaining speaking engagements in May.

In September, a spokesperson for the still absent former president then said she would be back at the end October or early November  Again, this homecoming never came. And more recently, Banda has changed her tune entirely.

Banda now says she will not return to Malawi until “serious security concerns” are resolved. She criticised the “Malawi Government’s delay in providing a secure and decent house in a secure locality” as well as the move to disarm her security detail.

“She will return home as soon as the government allocates her a house and also beefs up her security,” Banda’s spokesperson Andekuche Chanthunya told African Arguments.

The government has called these claims “insincere”. Spokesperson Jappie Mhango saidthat a house had been allocated, but was rejected by Banda’s relatives. He claimed the government has asked Banda to identify a suitable house, but that “the ministry is still waiting to hear from the former president’s office if a house suiting her taste has been found”. Meanwhile, regarding security, the spokesperson added that Banda had been provided with seven guards, the number to which former presidents are entitled.

Banda has also complained that the government has failed to pay her retirement benefits for 18 months. But again, the government has hit back, with Mhango saying certain forms need to be filled in by Banda in person before she can receive this income. “She has been the Head of State and she knows that,” he said. “Why is she always outside of Malawi and expect somebody else to complete the required formalities that need her physical presence?”.

Caught up in Cashgate?

Banda’s office insists that ongoing security concerns are keeping the former president from returning home, but some observers believe her real fears lie elsewhere. Many claim that Banda is afraid of allegations surrounding the huge corruption scandal known as Cashgate.

The Cashgate scandal was uncovered in 2013, while Banda was president, and led to the arrest of about 70 people, including government officials and business people, accused of stealing $32 million of government money through dubious construction deals.

Although not officially implicated, a number of lead suspects have made allegationsinvolving Banda. Oswald Lutepo, a former official of Banda’s People’s Party who is serving an 11-year jail term after pleading guilty to theft and money laundering, announced ahead of his sentencing: “Joyce Banda already knows that she used me. I can’t start explaining things that she already knows. She knows how she used me.”

Leonard Kalonga, a former Chief Tourism Officer who was also convicted, claimed Banda was involved too. Former Justice Minister, Ralph Kasambara, told the High Court he wanted the former president to be among his witnesses in his trial. And recently, itemerged that the jailed former Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture said in her witness statements that Banda was the mastermind behind Cashgate and that the former president instructed cabinet ministers to solicit money for the 2014 election campaign. 

Earlier this month, Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau said that it had been probing Banda for some time. “We are investigating any person who was involved in the massive plunder of government resources. As you might recall, there are a lot of people who have mentioned Dr Joyce Banda in their statements,” an official told a local paper.

Banda’s spokesperson Chanthunya insists that the former president’s delay in returning to Malawi has nothing to do with fear of prosecution, pointing out that Banda’s name is not on the list of culprits and that there is no warrant for her arrest. Banda vehemently denies all the allegations and some of her supporters have suggested the allegations are politically motivated. But speculation is still rife.

“We know that her name has been mentioned in the courts of law as far as Cashgate is concerned, so people are speculating that maybe she is running away from facing the law,” says Billy Banda, Executive Director of the local NGO Malawi Watch.

Mustafa Hussein, a political science lecturer at the University of Malawi, also raises doubts about Banda’s official excuses for staying away, and points to her possible political concerns. “We also know that before she left the country, there was acrimony between Banda and [current] President Mutharika. The two were not on talking terms,” he says.

Running the party

Regardless of the true reasons for Banda’s decision to keep away, her absence has led to some cracks in her party.

Earlier this month, northern region provincial chairperson Christopher Mzomera Ngwira called for Banda to be replaced at the top of the People’s Party, saying the power vacuum was affecting operations. The PP’s national executive committee suspended Ngwira for his comments, but over the past few days, a number of party governors have endorsed Ngwira’s suggestion.

PP spokesperson Ken Msonda, however, insists Banda’s continued absence is not an issue.

“Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda is in full control of the party and her absence has not affected the day-to-day running of the party,” he says. “She gives guidance on the day to day running of the party should need arise seeking her attention and directive.”

“US President Obama can rule America whilst in Airforce 1. Our late President Bingu wa Mutharika at one point as a sitting President was out of the country for over 6 months. Our former President Dr Bakili Muluzi whilst Chairman of UDF [United Democratic Front] was abroad for over 10 months. What is wrong with Banda being in full control of a political party whilst abroad?” he said.

For whatever reason, Banda’s homecoming has been a long time coming, and it is likely that the longer the wait goes on, the more rumours will circulate and the more her colleagues in the PP will grow uneasy.

As Billy Banda of Malawi Watch puts it, “There are so many things that people are speculating due to her reluctance to return home and there is no one who can put this to rest except herself.”

Lameck Masina is a Malawian journalist

Malawi ‘cashgate’: Ex-army chief General Odillo arrested ‘over corruption’


Malawi ‘cashgate’: Ex-army chief Odillo arrested ‘over corruption’

Gen Odillio and President Peter Mutharika
Gen Odillo (left) was head of the army until 2014 when he was sacked by President Mutharika

Malawi’s former army chief has been arrested over a multi-million dollar corruption allegation.

Gen Henry Odillo and his former deputy, Lt Col Clement Kafuwa, are accused of arranging a contract to supply military equipment which was never delivered.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has detained them as part of an on going investigation into government corruption known as “cashgate”.

Neither Gen Odillo nor Col Kafuwa have commented on the allegations.

Screen grab of Africa Live page

Latest African news updates

‘Cashgate’ – Malawi’s murky scandal


The BBC’s Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says dozens of civil servants have been charged in the “cashgate” investigations and so far there have been at least five convictions.

The scandal has revealed several cases of money being spent without services being provided.

Protesters in Malawi - October 2013
There have been protests over the corruption revealed by the ‘cashgate’ scandal

The two military men may be facing charges of abuse of public office, negligence by a public officer in preserving money and money laundering, a statement from the ACB says.

An investigation has found that the army paid $4.4m (£2.8m) for the equipment that was not supplied.

The “cashgate” issue came to light in September 2013 after the attempted assassination of the finance ministry’s budget director Paul Mphwiyo.

Just days before, a junior civil servant was allegedly found with more than $300,000 in cash in the boot of his car.

More cash was confiscated from some civil servants’ homes and car boots.

Malawi’s donors then withheld $150m pending further investigation into the scandal.

Malawi – growing evidence that cashgate funded election campaigns

Mail and Guardian

A leaked audit has hardened suspicions that Cashgate funded election campaigns

A British government-funded forensic audit has provided hair-raising new details of Malawi’s Cashgate scandal, suggesting that it may have cost the government nearly twice as much as initially thought, and deepening suspicions that much of the money was used for electioneering.

The latest report by United Kingdom-based auditors Baker Tilly, which was leaked to ama­Bhungane, indicates that at least 24?billion kwacha (about R540?million) was paid to 202 individuals by government departments, particularly the police and army.

This includes about K8.7?billion said to be “at risk” – including questionable foreign exchange transactions and payments to the Malawi police that lie outside the scope of the audit.

The report suggests that the theft had been going on for years but reached a climax in 2013, in the build-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections in May last year. The government is also investigating fraud cases amounting to K92?billion that it believes took place before Cashgate.

The auditors say their inquiry suggests “the proceeds of Cashgate may have been used to support electoral campaigns, though it is not possible to confirm the source of the funding”.

It says nine individuals who received government money, either directly or through close relatives, without providing goods or services, were listed by the Malawi Electoral Commission as election candidates.

Political connections
Four of them, all linked to former president Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP), received about K8?billion between April 1 and September?30 2013.

The alleged looting reached fever pitch between August 30 and September 6 2013, when K2.3?billion was withdrawn, amounting to 32% of the total withdrawals. About a third of this amount was cashed on a single day, September 5.

One of the principal beneficiaries, the report alleges, was the PP’s former recruitment director, Oswald Lutepo, whose companies accounted for K4.4?billion of the total.

Lutepo was fired by Banda after the scandal broke and ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate. He would not speak to amaBhungane about the latest revelations, saying through his wife that he is ill.

Four candidates from other parties also received government cash, but on a much smaller scale. Three Malawi Congress Party candidates received a total of K88-million, and a Democratic Progressive Party candidate landed K36?million.

In their latest report the auditors examine 48 companies allegedly involved in the scandal, having looked at 16 in the initial probe. It follows earlier findings, released by the government following media pressure in February last year, indicating that the scandal had cost the Malawian government about K13?billion.
Banks fingered in the scandal
The report suggests that the companies were in league with officials of Malawi’s eight commercial banks who are said to have processed suspicious transactions, and with senior staff in the accountant general’s department who allegedly rubber-stamped government payments.

It shows that the scam was based on over-invoicing, double payments and payments for items that were not supplied or for which there was no supporting documentation.

A total of 32 cheques worth K1.3?billion were paid to 18 companies without supporting evidence, K3.8?billion flowed from inflated procurement prices, and the sum of K1.9?billion related to payments for which there was no evidence of goods or services being provided.

Eight businesses were identified as opening new bank accounts or reopening dormant accounts and within three months depositing at least one cheque, with no supporting records or evidence of supply available.

One company received its first state contract two months after allegedly being registered – despite no company registration particulars being found and no evidence of a due diligence, supply history or tendering. Many suspect transactions were deleted from the government’s integrated financial management system.

The auditors discovered evidence suggesting that fraudulent cheques were written out in large, sequential batches on 22 dates between April and September 2013.

They advised the government to claw back irregular payments “with immediate effect”. However, very little seems to have been done to recover the money.

Findings damaging
The findings are particularly damaging to the accountant general’s office, where six officials, whom the report names, are singled out as having signed the 104 Cashgate cheques. Three of them approved 65% of the payments.

The auditors say they could find no documentary evidence “which would help determine the legitimacy of these transactions”, and ask why civil servants who signed multiple cheques to the same businesses over a short period failed to raise the red flag.

The report finds that the six officials breached their fiduciary duty under treasury instructions, and calls for legal and disciplinary steps to be taken against them.

They were briefly arrested last year and released on bail, but there appears to have been little further development in the case.

Banks criticised
The banks also get a hammering, with the auditors finding that they suffered from “significant control failures”.

Particularly in the spotlight is Standard Bank, which processed K3.8?billion of the Cashgate payments – a much larger sum than any other institution.

The auditors point out that Lutepo’s O&G Construction withdrew K150?million on a single day from Standard Bank’s Balaka branch.

As this is a regional operation in an area with low commercial activity, the scale of such a transaction would have been unusual.

The auditors say internal mechanisms such as paywalls and passwords were overturned, probably as a result of management overrides.

They found that the withdrawal of large sums of cash, particularly Malawian kwacha, and the resources required to transport such large sums should have raised suspicions among bank staff.

The auditors add that they would have expected advance requests for cash to be made to the Reserve Bank of Malawi, “as we understand the amounts withdrawn would have led to some branches exceeding their daily insurance limits”.

Weaknesses exposed
Other control weaknesses included honouring cheques with the incorrect number of official signatories, failure to complete cheque deposit slips and the inability to locate cheque images and supporting documents for high-value receipts and payments.

The banks have also been unable to provide mandates for businesses, and the auditors found the filing of suspicious transaction reports with the financial intelligence unit had been limited.

The report calls for the regulatory authorities to investigate the role of the banks “to assess whether it would have been reasonable to expect [them] to raise concerns at the very large sums of money being deposited and then withdrawn”.

“If it is concluded that the banks had not acted in accordance with banking norms and related legislation, appropriate action should be taken.”

In addition to Lutepo’s IPS and O&G Construction, the auditors identified the main beneficiary companies as:

• Top Prima and Rummage Pace, based in Dubai and Hong Kong respectively, which allegedly received a total of K12?billion.

Their owner, Anil Lalwani, could not be traced for comment this week.

• The South African-based Thuso Group, owned by Alexander Banda and Nelson Kauwa, which allegedly received K1.9?billion. This included K920?million in August 2013 for 5 000 rounds of blank 88mm ammunition at 2.33 times the market price, and for which there was no evidence of delivery.

The auditors also found paperwork indicating that Thuso deposited R30?million into its South African Standard Bank account.

• Stadal Building Contractors and Image Invest, owned by Stafford Mpoola, which together allegedly landed the sum of K1.2?billion.

Kauwa is a former PP official who was expelled after Cashgate hit the headlines and who also ran unsuccessfully as an independent election candidate. Mpoola was a low-level PP official who was also expelled from the party.

They could not be reached, despite attempts to contact Kauwa through his Facebook page.

Pointing out that the kwacha has a limited tradeable value outside Malawi, the auditors say it is unclear what happened to the cash that was withdrawn.

They point out that the banks issued cash with no recorded serial numbers, making tracing a challenge.

The auditors also uncovered evidence of collaboration among the beneficiary companies and of cash that was moved between them after it was withdrawn. One example of this was a K480?million transfer from Thuso to Lutepo’s company IPS after the ammunition “deal”.

They said these transfers, and the movement of money between different companies under the same owner, suggested “layering” – a money-laundering technique designed to obscure the origins of “hot” money.

The auditors said they had identified 13 transfers of sums greater than K1-million between the different businesses.

“To date no documentation proving these … transfers were for legitimate business purposes has been provided,” the report says.

The auditors recommend that the funds paid to these companies should be recovered.

Only two low-level government officials, both from the energy department, have been convicted in connection with Cashgate.

Standard Bank Malawi spokesperson Thoko Unyolo said she was new in the job and could not comment on the audit findings. She said the bank’s chief executive, Andrew Mashanda, was in a board meeting and could not be reached.

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Malawi government closes the anti-corruption body and judicial investigation of graft

Malawi 24


Malawi Government has indefinitely suspended the works of the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the judiciary with effect from Tuesday this week, Malawi24 has established.

Police to seal court offices on Tuesday (this week)

A well placed source confided to Malawi24 that to effect the suspension, government has issued a directive to the Malawi Police to seal off all office building belonging to the ACB and Judiciary respectively and stop people from getting in the premises.

The directive, our source understands, follows the recent decision by judiciary to snub government’s proposed 20% pay rise.

“The Judiciary does not accept the ‘offer’ from Central Government to increase Judicial Officer’s salaries up to 20% beyond that which is received by corresponding grades in the Civil Service. Or that the Judiciary Support Staff salaries be increased to the extent that they are harmonised with those of corresponding grades in the Civil Service” reads part of the letter signed by chairperson of the Working Committee on Terms and Conditions of Service of the Judiciary, Justice Lovemore Chikopa directed to the Chief Secretary, George Mkondiwa.

“The Judiciary’s position remains that such an ‘offer’ is against the express dictates and spirit of the Laws of Malawi and is therefore incapable of acceptance. Certainly not by the Malawi Judiciary whose mandate is inter alia to without discrimination protect, safeguard and be a custodian of the laws of this Republic.” Chikopa added

The source further revealed that Government has suspended salaries for the judicial workers from December until the standoff is resolved.

“The directive is aimed at forcing the striking officers to accept government’s proposed pay rise rather than the one demanded by the workers themselves” alleged our source who asked for anonymity.

While addressing the media last week, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Goodall Gondwe, maintained that the government has no intentions of increasing the pay for the judicial staff and that the strike was illegal.

The strikes by ACB and judicial workers have stalled some top cases in the courts including those to do with the Cashgate scandal.

ACB offices to be sealed

– See more at: http://malawi24.com/breaking-malawi-government-closes-acb-judiciary-indifinately/#sthash.wGbN2avf.dpuf

Malawi – first senior government official jailed over Cashgate


Malawi’s Treza Senzani jailed over ‘Cashgate’

US dollars (file photo)

Malawi has jailed its first senior official for the so-called “Cashgate” affair – the worst financial scandal in the country’s history.

A court in Lilongwe sentenced former tourism official Treza Senzani to three years’ imprisonment with hard labour.

She pleaded guilty to stealing $150,000 (£93,000) of government money.

At least 70 people have been arrested over “Cashgate” after an audit revealed that about $30m had been skimmed from the government payment system.

Businessmen and politicians are alleged to have connived with civil servants to make payments for goods and services that were never delivered.

Western donor nations and agencies, which provide 40% of Malawi’s budget, pulled the plug on vital aid worth around $150m in reaction to the scandal.

Allegations of the massive looting of government money became public following the shooting of the finance ministry’s then budget director Paul Mphwiyo in September 2013.

Malawi – President Mutharika to seek aid outside West, from Russia and China

Mail and Guardian

Malawi to seek new aid relationships outside the West

02 Jun 2014 15:46 AFP

Newly inaugurated Malawian President Peter Mutharika has said he will seek to build relationships with countries such as Russia and China.

Peter Mutharika won the recent elections in Malawi amid controversy. (AFP)

Malawi, traditionally dependent on Western aid donors, will look for “new friends” in countries such as China and Russia, newly elected President Peter Mutharika said at his inauguration Monday.

The ceremony at a stadium in the commercial capital Blantyre was boycotted by outgoing president Joyce Banda, who was soundly beaten by Mutharika in disputed elections held on May 20.

Mutharika, who takes power in one of the world’s poorest countries, where 40% of the budget comes from aid, said the donor nations were “welcome to stay here”.

Foreign policy would be based on what is best for Malawi, he said.

“We will continue with traditional relationships, but we are now looking for new friends in emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Russia.”

Britain and the United States have pledged to work with his government.

“The UK government looks forward to working with President Mutharika and his government on our shared goals of strengthening Malawi’s democracy, food security, prosperity and its positive role within the region,” Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds said in a weekend statement.

The US State department also “looks forward to continuing our close partnership with the government of Malawi in the advance of our mutual interests of supporting Malawi’s development.”

No official invitation
Mutharika said he regretted Banda’s absence, saying she had “declined to come here and hand over power to me.”

“I was looking forward to shaking her hand and burying the past. I have an olive branch in my hands.”

A spokesman for Banda said, “She was not officially invited and her official presidential convoy was withdrawn early hours of Saturday as soon as it was announced that Peter Mutharika had won the presidency.

“It would have been difficult for the outgoing president to travel to Blantyre.”

Mutharika takes over despite facing treason charges for attempting to conceal the death in office two years ago of his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, in an alleged bid to prevent Banda – then vice-president – from assuming power.

“It’s been a long journey,” Mutharika said of his ascent to power. “We didn’t know we would reach this far and be here today.”

“I have been imprisoned and tried on flimsy charges of treason,” he said.“I have been teargassed three times. But that’s all in the past.”

He said he had no intention of “vengeance”.

The treason charges against Mutharika are likely to be dropped as Malawian presidents have immunity from prosecution while in office.

But there has been speculation that Mutharika might now try turn the tables on Banda and have her charged with corruption over a $30-million graft scandal dubbed “Cashgate”.

Banda has claimed the credit for uncovering the fraud, which saw aid money syphoned into top government officials’ pockets. But critics, including Mutharika, suggest the funds went into her party’s election war-chest.

“Those who have broken laws of this country will meet the full course of justice,” he warned in his speech.

Banda had alleged anomalies in the election and sought to have the vote nullified.

Legal attempts to force a recount failed and the electoral commission declared Mutharika winner with 36.4% of the votes cast against Banda’s 20.2%.

Banda on Saturday congratulated Mutharika on his victory.

Mutharika, wearing a black suit with a white shirt and blue tie, entered the stadium in a Landrover, waving a blue hat to a cheering crowd. – AFP M&G

Malawi – as election results awaited government minister shoots himself


Malawi’s Godfrey Kamanya kills himself as results awaited

Hundreds of residents from the Ndirande township queue to vote on 21 May 2014, in Blantyre, Malawi Preliminary results will only be announced after 30% of votes have been counted

A Malawian minister has killed himself, police say, as results are still awaited from Tuesday’s general elections.

Outgoing deputy Local Government Minister Godfrey Kamanya shot himself in his home, according to police.

His spokesman denied reports that his suicide was linked to him apparently losing his parliamentary seat.

Official results have not yet been declared in what was expected to be a tight presidential race.

The BBC’s Raphael Tenthani in Malawi says the electronic counting system has broken down in some areas and votes are being collated manually in these places.

Buckets used

Mr Kamanya left a suicide note at his home in the capital, Lilongwe, asking President Joyce Banda to take care of his daughter and provide for her education, our reporter says.

A Malawian woman casts her ballot as voting procedures resume on 21 May 2014 in Blantyre, Malawi This was the fifth poll since one-party rule ended in 1994
Malawian Electoral Commission workers count voted ballots on 20 May 2014 in Blantyre, Malawi Counting is being done manually because the electronic system has broken down
A Malawian Electoral Commission officer checks the stub of the used ballot papers on 20 May  2014 in Blantyre, Malawi In some places, there was no electricity and lamps, causing delays

Eleven candidates ran against Mrs Banda, but her main challenger is seen as Peter Mutharika, the brother of former President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The Malawi Election Commission (MEC) will announce results when 30% of votes have been counted, its chairman Maxon Mbendera said on Wednesday.

The MEC was “not anywhere in the neighbourhood” of that figure, he added.

Counting was being done manually because the electronic system was “refusing to take the information from the ground where our data clerks are stationed to send the results,” chief elections officer Willie Kalonga told the AFP news agency.

Voting spilled into a second day at 13 voting stations, and thousands queued to cast their ballot.

In some places, voting boxes or lids did not arrive, so officials used buckets and plastic wrap, correspondents say.

In their preliminary assessment of the election, Commonwealth observers said it had been “peaceful, orderly and transparent”, although there had been “serious shortcomings” in the distribution of election material and “isolated incidents of violence” because of the delays.

Around 7.5 million people were eligible to vote in the fifth elections since the end of one-party rule 20 years ago. BBC

Mail and Guardian

Malawi elections: Soldiers quell voter unrest after delays

Malawi’s military has backed up police following reports of voting materials set alight and roads being blocked by angry voters.

People flee after angry voters torched down a voting station in the Chiwembe district on May 20 in Blantyre. (AFP)

Soldiers deployed in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre on Tuesday after voters, angered by delays and mishaps at polling stations in a hotly contested presidential election, torched voting materials and blocked roads.

Incumbent President Joyce Banda, southern Africa’s first female head of state, faces 11 challengers, some of whom had already cried foul in the election run-up, saying they had unearthed plots to skew the ballot.

Foreign diplomats say they have seen no credible evidence of vote-rigging, but delays and other difficulties are likely to fuel urban distrust of Banda and her government after a recent $15-million corruption scandal.

“There’s no ink. We’re still waiting for the consignment,” one election official told a frustrated crowd waiting for hours to vote at a Blantyre school.

At another polling station in Blantyre, an angry crowd torched election materials when they arrived hours late and in other constituencies they blocked roads with rocks before the military arrived to back up police.

Banda: Keep calm
In the absence of reliable opinion polls, most analysts rank People’s Party leader Banda as favourite because of her popularity in rural areas where she has been rolling out development projects and farm subsidies.

After casting her ballot in the southern village of Malemia, Banda urged all sides to keep calm.

“I’m thankful that the campaign period was peaceful and am urging all Malawians to vote peacefully today without any incident or loss of life,” she told reporters.

Banda came to power in the landlocked, impoverished nation two years ago after her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, died in office.

She initially enjoyed huge goodwill from the many who hated Mutharika’s autocratic style, and won the backing of foreign donors and the International Monetary Fund when she pushed through austerity measures, including a sharp devaluation of the kwacha, to stabilise the farming-dependent economy.

But more recently her administration’s reputation has been hit by a $15-million graft scandal, dubbed Cashgate after the discovery of large amounts of money in the car of a senior government official.

More than 80 people have been arrested and a former Cabinet minister has been dismissed and put on trial for money laundering and attempted murder.

But urban voters have criticised Banda’s response as ponderous and relations with donors have soured.

Banda’s main challenger is Lazarus Chakwera, an evangelical pastor who retired from the church last year to lead the Malawi Congress Party, the rejuvenated party of the late Hastings Banda, who ran the former British colony with an iron fist in its first three decades of independence.

Mutharika’s younger brother Peter is also running as the head of the Democratic Progressive Party. Another prominent contender is Atupele Muluzi, son of former president Bakili Muluzi, who took over from Hastings Banda in 1994. – Reuters  M&G