Analysts say Chaponda’s arrest is ‘window dressing’

Local commentators have expressed some caution and reservations over the recent arrest of former Minister of Agriculture Honourable George Chaponda who has been charged with graft for allegedly profiting in a $35million maize import deal from neighbouring Zambia, saying the arrest might be a sign of desperation, panic and “window dressing” on the part of authorities.

Kenani: Some animals are more than equal

Chaponda has been battling against graft allegations following the controversial purchase of 100 000 tons of maize in July 2016.

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) spokeswoman Egrita Ndala said that Chaponda had been charged with “misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency”.

He was fired in Cabinet by President Peter Mutharika following pressure in February after police uncovered $223 000 in cash stashed in suitcases at the bedroom  in his house during a raid.

In his reaction on Chaponda’s long awaited arrest, to one of the local commentators Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times  it was too early for Malawians who have longed to see justice on the matter to start celebrating as the arrest must also be viewed “within the political economy context which seem to suggest that it may be one of the signs of desperation and panic on the part of the authorities to counteract the existing international and domestic pressure on them to act on the issue”

Said Munthali: “It’s too early to start heaping praise  on ACB let alone the current regime for this arrest. The timing and the manner in which such arrest has been executed seem to raise some suspicion that this might be another window dressing gesture to show that something is being done.

“Otherwise, the arrest was long overdue, and the perennial executive shielding of the suspect was very clear.”

Munthali argued that  the arrest may be a sign of desperation and panic on the part of those in authority in reaction to the growing international and domestic pressure to act.

“As you are aware, the international development partners and the delegates present during the previous national anti-corruption conference did not mince words at the authorities by telling point blank that the failure of ACB to arrest Chaponda and Mutharika’s continued shielding of Chaponda from investigation and prosecution had the potential to erode the few gains Malawi had registered in the fight against corruption over the years,” he said.

“Nevertheless, time will tell as to whether this arrest was based on a strong collective conviction to ensure that justice prevails on the matter or a mere political attempt to fool Malawians and the donors that something was being done like we have seen in other Cashgate and Muluzi’s case,” said Munthali, who is also the National Secretary of the Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission of Evangelical Association of Malawi.

A renowned legal scholar from University of Malawi Chancellor College Bright Theu took time to write on social media to describe Chaponda’s arrest as charade.

“This Chaponda arrest could well be a charade, given the guys at the helm of things at the moment. Especially when  a purpoted government website is fronting the story like a trophy,” Theu posted on Facebook.

“I am unable to trust these guys. You go some trust-earning to do folks,ACB, DPP and government generally” wrote Theu.

Malawi Geneva-based writer-cum analyst Onjezan iKenani wrote: “Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau has arrested former Agriculture Minister Dr. George Chaponda. As Amos 5:24 says, let justice roll down like waters. However, I wish all suspected criminals were arrested in the manner the Bureau has arrested Dr. Chaponda. He was not taken to a police cell. He will go straight to court this morning, where he will be granted bail. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Human rights activist Charles Kajoloweka who has been pushing for justice in the  Mizegate scandal said Chaponda’s arrest has come too late.

“It’s a progressive action but it is coming a little late especially when you consider that these [commission of] inquiry reports were released some six months ago,” he said in quotes reported by Voice of America.

Kajoloweka argued that the delay confirms that Chaponda, a vice president of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, had continued to enjoy protection “under the current political leadership.”

In a statement, however, ACB  ruled out any political interference in the matter, saying “The process of investigations is complicated and needs to be conducted with due process and detailed care.”

Pressure from parliamentarians led Mutharika in January to order an inquiry into the deal, which was brokered by the state-owned grain trader ADMARC.

 

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Tafwa Chipalamandule
Guest

Iwe so called ‘Observer’ ndiwe ntchewe yakufikapo. You mean up to now you do not know that ‘Tumbukas’ are the most intelligent people in our country. Tumbukas are the chosen few. How do you expect Chewas to comment while they are busy with gulewamkulu? And how do you expect yawos to comment while they are busy fishing, jando and utelala, and how do you expect Lomwes to comment while they are busy with Manganje and Mulakho wa wa lomwe – kikikikikiki!

Mbowe Mulambia
Guest

Everything has its end God is watching you can be clever today but not tomorrow

Muzanga Majoti
Guest

So what exactly do these so called analysts now? Leave Chaponda to roam the streets you scream, squeam and make unnecessary noise. Arrest Chaponda boma lalakwitsanso. You tell us what you want. You just make noise just because you think you feel you have to no matter how unintelligent whatever it is you are going to waffle. Get a life please…aa

weniweni observer
Guest
Makhumbo Munthali, Bright Theu, Onjezan Kenani, Charles Kajoloweka onse atumbuka okhaokha. You mean the only commentators you can seek views from are Tumbukas only. It is obvious you only ask those you know will agree with you. To add more salt to the wound the writer of this article, Chiumia, is another Tumbuka. I am not defending Chaponda and he needs to pay for his crimes. But this apparent tribalism of getting views from Tumbukas only is very worrying. This does not only happen with Nyasatimes but all journalists that are tumbuka from all other media houses. They only quote… Read more »
Tiyanjane
Guest

Observer, what do you say about the ethnicity of the big crowds that booed and mocked Chaponda in Blantyre?

Muzanga Majoti
Guest

Mostly Tumbukas l presume…

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