Malawi CSOs apply to court for Minister Chaponda’s ouster over maizegate

Malawi civil society organisations (CSOs) and activist have applied for a judicial review from the High Court in Mzuzu and among other things asking Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda to resign over Zambian maize misprocurement saga and pave way for investigations.

Chaponda: Pressure mounts for him to resign

The CSOs led by youth activist Charles Kajoloweka – are Mzuzu based Youth and Society and Church and Society Programme and the Lilongwe based Center for Development of People 9Cedep).

“If leave to move for judicial review is granted, then the same should operate as an interlocutory injunction restraining Chaponda from discharging his duties as a cabinet minister pending a further order of this court,” they said according to papers.

Newly appointed Judge John Chirwa is expected to make a ruling on the application on Thursday morning.

A Judicial review is a form of court proceeding in which a Judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. It is a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made.

President Peter Mutharika instituted a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the scam in which Admarc reportedly bought maize at K26 billion from the Zambian company and it is believed that Malawi could have saved about K9.5 billion if it had bought the grain directly from the Zambian government.

Former Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa is chairing the commission and other members are Solicitor General Janet Banda, Auditor Isaac Kayira and Mike Chinoko.

The use of a middleman, Kaloswe, is raising suspicion that officials may have indulged in corruption when Malawi government is on record to have said Chaponda was in discussion with the Zambian government over the maize deal, and at some point, engaged in discussions directly with Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

The NGO`s judicial review filed on Wednesday afternoon under civil cause number 01 of 2017 between: the State versus Chaponda as first respondent, the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale as second respondent and President Mutharika as third respondent, the NGOs faults the composition of the commission of inquiry saying it is illegal.

“The decision by Mutharika to appoint … Janet Banda and Isaac Kaira, who are civil servants and therefore subordinates to the respondents…contradicts the impartiality of commissioners of inquiry as per section 7 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Cap 18:01 of the Laws of Malawi and clear principles of natural justice and constitutionalism,” reads part of the application.

The activist want the High Court to declare as illegal Mutharika`s decision not to exercise his prerogative to suspend or remove Chaponda pending the finalization of investigations by the Commission of Inquiry saying his inaction is contrary to the spirit of the Commissions of Inquiry Act Cap 18:01  especially section 7.

They also want the High Court`s declaration on the illegality of the decision of Chaponda not to resign to pave way for investigations saying being a line cabinet minister under the ministry that is being directly investigated, it creates an appearance of bias and that Chaponda  may interfere with the investigation.

The two Parliamentary Committees—Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Public Accounts—separately made similar demands.

But Chaponda issued a  statement  made available to Nyasa Times, arguing his involvement in the misprocurement was minimal as State-produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe was the one in charge.

“At the outset, let me report that, my involvement was minimal as the main buyer of the maize was ADMARC and not the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development. As most of you, may be aware, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development oversees the operations of some parastatals including ADMARC. While the Ministry focuses on providing policy direction and guidance, the parastatals manage day to day operational issues of their institutions and they are answerable to their Boards,” Chaponda said.

Chaponda, a strongman in Mutharika government, challenged that he will not succumb to civil society demands to resign over the matter, saying those making the calls are jealous of him.

Meanwhile, Malawi Parliamentary Committee of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has opened a parallel investigations into the ‘maizegate’ to investigate corrupt elements in the matter after noting that commission of inquiry appointed by President Peter Mutharika may just be to silence the inquisitive Malawians.

Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the committee is doing its own investigations “to get to the bottom of the matter.”

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Ibrahim sanudi
Guest

Zafikapa, Ine sindikuona vuto LA amene Akubawa, koma Malamulo ndi anthu amene amapanga Malamulo ndiwo opusa,,, chifukwa chiyani , anthu amenewa sapatsidwa zilango zokhwima, yet akawamanga, amalipira zindalama zomwe anaba zomwezo kupatsidwa Bail.
they enjoy peaceful existence and saopa, kulakwiranso lamulo,,,,
mukuganiza kuti chimanga chonsecho angabe iye yekha ndimphamvu zake zokha,,,, alipo ambiri,
zitsiru izi zimanamizira kuzenga milandu Cholinga chongowaphimba anthu Kumaso,,
Ozenga milanduwa NDE mbamva zazikulu,, silent killers!!!!!!!!

Kwayipa
Guest

Why shielding this rotten Minister, am personally tire of him.

palikanthu
Guest

The beginning of the end and the end of blindness and actionless among the democratic citizenry

lisitoni wawononga
Guest

The DDP Government is the most corrupt government in the world and thats why the donors they have pulled out their donation to this country.The President himself is a corrupt president of that malawi has never had .Peter Muthalika can do any evil to malawias because he doth have family here in malawi. Malawi will never prosper with DDP government because they dont think about malawias they think about them selves .Malawi should come together and pray together to our lord God.Malawi is not a failed state but it is having a failed leader {PETER MUTHALIKA}

Jelbin mk
Guest
Mr Nkhongo, as much a i want to agree with you that the converned citizens that took this action had a poor advice on how governance work in a democratic society like ours. I would comfotably differ with you concerning your point on the role the minister plays. He is the overseer of all activities within the ministry especially in any issue the ministry undertake out side our borders. The minister has to sign such agreements or the president himself remember you don’t sign something you don’t understand so Chaponda understood very well what he was signing hence to be… Read more »
Achiomba
Guest

President Peter Muthalika the dormant..!!

Jekete
Guest
That’s the way to go. Bravo guys. These crooks should not rape our systems. Why should Chaponda be investigated while he is still in power when others before, and currently his accomplice in the scandal, Mulumbe, have gone on forced leave? Is he a sacred cow? Does he own us? The failure by Peter Mtharika to fire Chaponda in this situation is a clear sign that he is completely useless and not there to solve problems faced by Malawians and it clearly vindicates earlier revelations that he is hiding 7 rotten ministers in his cabinet in the Mk267Bn cash gate… Read more »
QueenB
Guest

Kunyansa mtima ndi nkhope yomwe

Zaya ku Nkhongo
Guest
The courts will have to forgive these idiots who don’t seem to know a thing about corporate governance. A minister will formulate and implement policies and not undertake day-to-day oversight of a statutory body. How one wants Minister Chaponda to resign because a statutory body under his purview was involved in corruption is devoid of any common sense. How many scandals have we had in Ministries and do we then fire/suspend a Minister for every scandal committed? That will definitely be chaotic and there is no way a government will move forward under such arrangements. The President has setup a… Read more »
Katundu
Guest

How dumb can you be? Why did he leave his “policy-making desk” and go to Zambia (to discuss how to share the spoils)? Forget the lies he is peddling. Ngati umadya nawo mupita limodzi. Your days are numbered.

Achimidzimidzi
Guest

@ Zaya ku Nkhongo, had it been that you did corporate governance your CoI would not have be queried as illegal. Even yourself do not seem to follow it. Try again!!!!

We appreciate the fact that Dr Chaponda is just a line minister, however his explanation is not satisfactory if compared with information made available. Let him show us the agreements he signed.

the pillar
Guest

Are you a Judge? We will take what the court says. Tatopa ndi mbava zimenezi. Ndalama akubazi ndi misonkho yathutu, we will not keep quiet forever, no!!!!!!!!!

PeterMustFall
Guest

Chaponda must Go….Period

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