Embattled Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water development, George Chaponda on Monday came out fighting by scoffing at calls for his resignation after being faulted for his involvement with TransGlobe Limited in the maize purchase from Zambia, which the inquiry found it smacked corruption.
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry headed by former Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa presented its report to President Peter Mutharika on Saturday at Kamuzu Palace. The report, among others, faults Chaponda’s involvement in the deal, saying it was suspicious; hence he must be probed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Since the release of the report, there have been calls that Chaponda should resign and that President Mutharika should take prompt action against the minister and management of State produce trader Admarc who are alleged to be corrupt.
But Chaponda has struck a defiance tone, saying he is not resigning.
“I was not involved in the nitty gritty of procurement,” Chaponda said, insisting there was no wrong doing on his part.
“My job was not to follow procedures that was Admarc’s job. They have Internal Procurement Committee. Mine was at policy level,” he added.
Chaponda was speaking on Capital Radio’s DayBreak Malawi program monitored by Nyasa Times Monday morning.
Asked if he is going to respond to calls by civil society organisations (CSOs) to resign, Chaponda flatly rejected.
“It is irregular, irregular because it is the first time in the whole world that you can have CSOs coming up to say you stay aside,” said Chaponda.
He said Ministerial posts are presidential prerogatives and that only President Mutharika has the powers to hire and fire.
“CSOs don’t have that power. I found that irregular,” said Chaponda.
Chaponda maintained that he will not step aside, saying the matter is beyond maizegate scandal.
“It’s personal vendetta. It has now seized to be a maize saga it is now personal,” claimed Chaponda.
He claims the matter is now a fight between southern region and northern region.
“It has now become a north-south antagonism,” he said.
Chaponda said though he is being faulted, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe was equally at fault but that he is being shielded because he comes from the north.
“Why that Minister of Finance is is not being mentioned. The CSOs are from north,” ranted Chaponda.
But speaking on the same Daybreak Malawi program, political analyst Humphrey Mvula queried Chaponda’s remarks.
“It is strange that the minister has said that. Chaponda should have kept quiet,” said Mvula.
“It shows impudence and arrogance. He is an appointed person,” he added.
Mvula said Chaponda is “creating collateral damage” by dragging Finance Minister Gondwe in the saga.
On Sunday, South Africa-based legal expert Danwood Chirwa called for Chaponda and Admarc officials to be fired if they fail to resign.
“ These findings are a serious indictment of the minister, affected Admarc officials, and arguably the government as a whole. The report also confirms the public’s suspicion of possible corruption on the part of the minister as regards how he carried out his duties.
“The most responsible thing to do is for the minister and all Admarc officials impugned in the report to resign. If they do not, they must be fired immediately,” said Chirwa in quotes reported by Nation on Sunday.
He said the President should not maintain someone whose moral turpitude has been called into question.
Chirwa asked the President to uphold the Constitution and “demonstrate that he cares about the rule of law by dismissing the minister without delay and allowing the crime fighting agencies to do their work freely.”
The Commission found that “the conduct of the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in dealing with Trans Globe Limited to sell maize to ADMARC was suspicious”.
The Commission in its recommendations called for further investigation on Chaponda by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on his involvement with Trans Globe Limited and that disciplinary action be taken on ADMARC management for contracts “fraudulently entered into”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :