Chaponda faces four counts of corruption in Malawi-Zambia maize misprocurement

Former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Dr George Chaponda, who was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Wednesday, faces four counts for his questionable involvement in the procurement of maize from Zambia.

Chaponda: Man in the news for bad reasons

The ACB arrested Chaponda, Grace Mijiga Mhango (former Chairperson for Grain Traders Association of Malawi) and Rashid Tayub of Transglobe on Wednesday after establishing that offences were committed in the procurement of maize from Zambia.

ACB Senior Public Relations Officer, Egrita Ndala indicated in a statement that Chaponda will wikely be charged with corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency contrary to section, 25A(1), 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and Regulation 25A(1) of the Exchange Control Regulations as read with Section 3 of the Exchange Control Act respectively.

According to ACB, Mijiga Mhango will be charged with forgery contrary to Section 351 of the Penal Code while Tayub is expected to appear for the Bureau.

“On 14th July, 2017, the Bureau obtained a warrant of arrest for the suspects. On 19th July, 2017, the Anti-Corruption Bureau executed the warrants on the three,” reads the statement in part.

She said they would be taken to Court after the Bureau has recorded caution statements from them.

The statement further claims that in December 2016, the Bureau received a complaint alleging that procurement procedures were not followed in the procurement of maize from Zambia by ADMARC.

ACB has been conducting investigation into the matter and sent its officers to Zambia in January where they together with the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia interviewed various people whom it felt had information relevant to the matter.

On 21 February 2017, the Bureau conducted a search and seizure operation on various premises after it obtained search and seizure warrants from the court.

“The Bureau has in recent times come under intense pressure and scrutiny on this matter, others suggested we were under instruction from the executive to obstruct justice in this matter for political reasons.

“We wish to make it clear to the public and all stakeholders that the ACB remains an independent professional institution which operates independently without any influence from any one. The process of investigations can be complicated and needs to be conducted with due process and detailed care,”said Ndala.

She claimed the Bureau empathizes with the concerns of the public for speedy investigations but quickily pointed out that such calls, in a democracy, need to be balanced with the due process required under the law.

“It should also be understood that in some cases where accused persons are members of parliament, parliamentary immunity when they are sitting in parliament may also delay such processes,” the statement reads.

The bureau said like all accused persons, the accused remain “innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law.”

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