‘Gaffarena scandal the beginning of the end for Muscat’ – Busuttil

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil questions Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's loyalty to Malta in the wake of Gaffarena scandal, says Opposition MPs are not cut from the same cloth as none were taken to court and charged with corruption

The damning NAO report into the Gaffarena scandal is the beginning of the end for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his government, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said.

Addressing the party faithful in Zejtun, the Nationalist Party leader said the report into the fast-tracked expropriations of the property owned by Mark Gaffarena provided ample evidence that the Labour administration was Malta’s “most corrupt government.”

“The NAO’s report is clear evidence that this government is in a corruption crisis and that it is the most corrupt government in Malta’s history … What is more worrying is that the Gaffarena scandal is not a one-off but only one of a series of scandals that have besieged this government,” he said.

Insisting that it was useless for the government to point its finger at the shortcomings of previous Nationalist administrations, the Opposition leader continued on his warpath against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and former lands parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon, claiming that the it was impossible that Muscat was unaware of the Gaffarena expropriations.

“There are many questions which have yet to be answered. For instance, was Joseph Muscat – the minister who is directly responsible for the lands department – aware of the deal? Is it possible that for the prime minister not to have known about the deal before it had been signed?” Busuttil quipped.

“If Michael Falzon failed to inform the prime minister, then that would have been enough grounds for Falzon to resign, but the truth is that I have no doubt that Muscat knew of the Gaffarena deal before it was revealed, and he should thus shoulder political responsibility himself,” the PN leader said while questioning whether Gaffarena had used the €3.5 million to corrupt anyone.

Busuttil questions PM’s loyalty, says Opposition MPs are not cut from the same cloth

In an attempt to reach out to disgruntled voters, the PN leader exhorted floaters and genuine Labourites not to be fooled by the government's defence of the corruption scandals. Questioning the prime minister’s loyalty to the country, Busuttil also said that the Muscat movement did not have Malta’s best interests at heart, and that it no longer had the worker as its focal point.

Busuttil – who in November saw former PN health minister Joe Cassar resign from Parliament in the wake of his revelations about his connections with the Gaffarena family – was quick to dispel claims that the Opposition was cut from the same cloth.

“Three years have passed since the election and not one PN minister has been taken to court and charged with corruption,” he said.

“The PN truly believes in its message. The only requisite for anyone to join the PN is to have Malta’s interests at heart … No one can be a Nationalist and be a member of Muscat’s movement because the prime minister only has his interests and those of the few at heart,” he said.

“The time has come for the Labour Party to stop pointing its fingers at previous Nationalist administrations. The time has come for the Prime Minister to see what is being done under his watch and if he is unable to lead an honest government, then he should make way for someone else,” he said.

“I must make it clear that I do not want people to vote for the PN because of the scandals of this government, but only if they truly believe that the PN is moving in the right direction. I want the people to regain their trust in the PN, but not by pointing our fingers at Muscat,” he continued.

Turning his attention on the court case that the Prime Minister instituted to recoup the lands handed to Gaffarena as part of the expropriation of a palazzo in Old Mint Street, the Opposition leader accused Muscat of taking people for a ride.

“The government is not interested in recouping the money or the property. Did the Prime Minister believe that the people were stupid? Could the Prime Minister not jut ordered the Lands Department to change what was wrong?” Busuttil rallied.

The PN leader also said that Mark Gaffarena had “deep and dangerous” mafia links with the lands department, Castille, and the police, and noted that a few days before the Auditor General published his damning verdict, Gaffarena was still spotted at the Lands Department.