The graft-busting body is accusing defence lawyers for former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda and two others in the case relating to the Zambian maize import transactions of leaking witness details.
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) disclosed it has lined up 22 to testify as prosecution witnesses and served a statement of disclosure to the defence team.
However, witnesses list has been leaked to the media and among them it is known Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, who is also the official government spokesperson, will testify alongside Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe as Henry Mussa the Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism.
The ministers recorded statements have also been leaked such that Finance Minister Gondwe recorded to testify that he told Chaponda that the importation of maize from Zambia at $450 per tonne was “unprocedural”.
Gondwe also directed that “all the public procurement requirements as stipulated by the Public Procurement Act and the Office of the Director of public Procurement would have to be met.”
However, ACB is not amused with the leakage and officials are blaming the defence team for “tactically leaking the witness list to intimidate them.”
An official of ACB who opted to have his name shielded told Nyasa Times that they fear witnesses are being intimidated to defeat the course of justice.
The anti-graft body fears defence witness information had put the security of “critical” prosecution witnesses in jeopardy.
ACB are “dismayed” by the defence whom they accused of disclosing the identities of prosecution witnesses.
The blame is also targeted at lawyer Frank Mbeta for being responsible for the leakage.
The embattled former minister, who is also vice-president for the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) responsible for Southern Region and member of Parliament (MP) Mulanje South West Constituency, was charged with two criminal counts of misusing public office and possession of foreign currency without the lawful justification and is being represented by private practice lawyers who include Mbeta, Tamando Chokotho, Madaliso Mmeta, and Jai Banda.
His alleged accomplices—Rashid Tayub, director of Transglobe Produce Export Limited and Grace Mijiga-Mhango, a businessperson and chairperson of the Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi (GTPA)—were arrested by ACB last month for their alleged roles in the dubious purchase of maize from Zambia.
Blantyre chief resident magistrate (CRM) Simeon Mdeza adjourned the case to September 14 2017 after the defence counsel objected to the prosecution’s intentions to make an application to consolidate the case into one charge sheet.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :