Three Cabinet Ministers, Presidential Advisor Summoned To Testify In Chaponda’s Maize Gate Trial
Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza has ordered corruption –related trial involving former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda over a maize procurement contract should proceed and that the State should present its prosecution witnesses including three ministers attending parliament.
The presiding magistrate ordered that the State should find means of ensuring that the witnesses appear before the court dismissing a request to adjourn the matter to organise more witnesses.
The defence lawyers strongly objected to the proposal for adjournment.
“I entirely agree with the defence, the State has to find ways to exhaust the days that have been set for this case. As I said earlier on, I wanted the case to be tried in January and we had to cancel some of the things because the State indicated they were ready,” said Mdeza
He said adjourning the matter would push the case to either March or May next year because of his full up diary.
“If we adjourn the case, we may reach March to May. Therefore, I order the State to find a way that this case should continue,” presiding magistrate said.
State will now have to bring to court its witnesses who include three ministers attending parliament to testify against a former cabinet colleague.
Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe, Information and Communications Technology Minister Nicholas Dausi and Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Henry Mussa will be called to give evidence against Chaponda.
Presidential adviser on National Unity and Parliamentary Affairs Symon Vuwa Kaunda is also expected to testify as State witness.
President Peter Mutharika launched an investigation in January into the government order for 100,000 tonnes of Zambian white maize, after an opposition leader there said he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per ton instead of the $215 the consignment was worth.
Chaponda, who is also second in command in the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was arrested in July, sacked and charged with abuse of office and possession of foreign currency without lawful justification.
He pleaded not guilty to all corruption-related charges and was released on bail.
Malawi was importing maize to ease food shortages triggered by a severe drought that swept the region in 2016.
The trial has been adjourned to next Tuesday.