CORRUPTION SCANDAL FORCES TONY BLAIR OUT OF MALAWI
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative rushed into Malawi soon after the rise to the presidency of Joyce Banda. Joyce Banda was a beacon of hope and fresh air to most western power brokers as she succeeded Bingu wa Mutharika who had driven his country’s economy into the mud while also developing a rather abrasive relationship with western donors.
Through his Africa Governance Initiative, Tony Blair’s presence at the Lilongwe state house was regarded as an important good will gesture. Malawi’s first and Africa’s second female president could only benefit from the governance expertise of Mr Tony Blair’s organization.
18 months later as Malawians continue to suffer hardship in the wake of the biggest corruption and financial mismanagement scandal ever recorded, Tony Blair has pulled out of Malawi amidst allegations that Malawi’s President Joyce Banda may have paid the former British Prime Minister millions of Malawian taxpayer dollars for governance consultancy and advisory services
Newspaper reports published in Malawi allege that the payments made by President Joyce Banda to the Africa Governance Initiative were made illegally as they were made outside the budget and without the approval of Malawi Parliament. In Malawi, President Joyce Banda has come under fire from critics and Civil society for not disclosing to Malawians the exact nature of Mr Blair’s presence in Malawi and many are worried that this southern Africa’s impoverished country’s empty coffers may have paid the former British Prime Minister such huge sums of money, reported to be in excess of US$5 million when all along, Malawians have been made to believe that Mr Blair’s presence in Malawi was a charitable act.
Citing top secret documents obtained from the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, reports in Malawi claimed that on orders from President Joyce Banda, the Malawi Government entered into a contract with Mr Tony Blair as an individual to be advising the Malawian leader on regular basis. The reports further claim that some of Mr Blair’s staff working under the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) were placed in the Malawi President’s office for regular monitoring of performance and evaluation of progress, and to play an advisory role in the absence of the former British Prime Minister.
Additionally, it is alleged that that Mr Blair and AGI staff operating from the President’s office in the administrative capital, Lilongwe had access to the Malawian leader 24 hours through telephone and that face to face appointments with the President needed to be guaranteed to the Blair team at short notice.
According to the allegations, at least 8 payments were made from the Malawi Treasury at various points in 2012, just months after Mrs Banda took over the presidency following the death of late President Bingu Wa Mutharika. The Malawi Government was paying Mr Tony Blair through various banks accounts in the names of “the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI)”, “Tony Blair Associates”, “Windrush Ventures” and “Firerush Ventures”. All the payment details were referenced to Mr Tony Blair’s operating office addresses: P.O. Box 60519, London W2 7JU. (Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, Central London.)
Three weeks ago, as pressure continued to mount on president Joyce Banda’s administration regarding her failure to deal effectively with the corruption scandal now christened “Cashgate”, the former British Prime Minister announced he had severed all his ties with President Joyce Banda.
Mr Blair’s office as well as the official spokesperson for Africa Governance Initiative released separate statements categorically denying receiving any payments from the Malawi Government and insisting that Mr Blair’s presence in Malawi was as a humanitarian, and the presence of the Africa Governance Initiative in Malawi was for only charitable purposes.
Sam Hardy, AGI Communications Manager, issued a statement on AGI’s website which claimed the stories are “completely false and are based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever.”
He said: “Neither Tony Blair nor AGI has ever received any payments from the Government of Malawi, the President or her office, or any affiliated body.”
The statement clarified: “ AGI is an independent charity, the work we and Tony Blair have undertaken in Malawi has been entirely funded from philanthropic sources.”
Nevertheless, Malawians are still left wondering what really were the interests on Mr Blair in Malawi, considering that he appeared on the scene claiming that he would offer governance advice, and that it was during his watch that the Cashgate scandal has been exposed.Could it be that Mr Blair, having been paid millions to advice on governance, a task he has demonstrably failed, is now disserting Malawi at a time when Malawi needs his advice the most?
There are many in Malawi who believe that Mr Blair knew about the high level corruption, fraud and looting which many believe was masterminded by President Banda herself, and that his interest in Malawi was simply financial exploitation.
http://www.zallanntata.com/index.php/component/content/article/3-latest-news/93-africas-false-prophet-cashgate-forces-tony-blair-out-of-malawi and in replacement of the AlJazeera partially reposted article found here
Normally all re-posts are partial.