Former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda, returned to court Thursday after the country’s anti-graft busting body Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) appealed against his acquittal of case in his corruption-related case regarding the Zambia maize purchase in 2016.
Chaponda was charged with three offences of giving false information to ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency.
Zomba Senior Resident Magistrate, Paul Chiotcha, had ruled that he had no cases to answer.
ACB had resolved to appeal against the two counts because they were not satisfied with the way the magistrate handled the two counts of giving false information to ACB and possession of foreign currency.
And, while the nation thought that the maizegate case had returned Thursday, Chaponda’s lawyer, Tamando Chokhotho clarified that the appeal case was nothing to do with maizegate.
“ACB has not appealed against the acquittal on maizegate which means there is no maizegate. But they have appealed against the acquittal on being found in possession of foreign currency and giving false information to the Bureau,” said Chokhotho.
According to Chokhotho, they also argued before Judge Redson Kapindu that there was no case since the plaintiff did not appeal within 10 days.
“The appeal documents that were presented before the court are outdated; and, according to Section 343 Sub-section 1, it means the High Court cannot accept them. That was what we were arguing before the court today,” said Chokhotho.
Nyasa Times understands that the plaintiff was supposed to have filed the appeal ten days after May 26, 2018. However, the documents, which the High Court has seen, were dated on June 14, 2018.
When ACB officer raided Chaponda’s residence during the investigations of Maizegate, they seized suitcases stashed with cash – US$58,000 and MK124 million.
The cash stashed in suitcases at Chaponda’s residence reminded Malawians of the biggest corruption scandal called ‘Cashgate’ which involved fraudulent government payments for services not rendered and for “ghost pensions” to fictional government retirees.
Corrupt officials pocketed the money, using it to buy smart cars and mansions — or simply stuffed bundles of US dollars and Malawi kwacha in car boots, handbags and pillowcases, hence the “cash” in “Cashgate”.
When ACB seized the cash from Chaponda, the politician claimed the money belongs to the governing DPP.
Chaponda justified why he is cash-rich, saying he has worked for the United Nations (UN) for over 20 years and has his own investments.
He also submitted his assets declaration form to ACB which indicates he hold many bank accounts in foreign countries where he worked for UN.
A lists of assets Chaponda declared as of February 1, 2017 seen by Nyasa Times shows that he has 20 real estate properties in Lilongwe, Blantyre, France, Luchenza, Mangochi, Thyolo and Chiradzulu.
According to Chaponda declaration, the source of funds for the property, valued at K853 million, included bank loans and his earnings from the UN, United Kingdom, South Africa, France and his children abroad and Chaponda investments
Chaponda, who is also Mulanje South West legislator, was arrested on July 19 2017, five months after President Peter Mutharika fired him from Cabinet due to public pressure.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :