Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi has told the court as a State witness in the case of corruption in the procurement of maize from Zambia that former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda claims that thousands of dollars and millions of Kwachas found by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) stashed inside suitcases hidden in the bedroom of his house during a search belonged to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was not true .
Dausi, a senior DPP official, told Zomba Chief Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotcha, who is hearing the case in Lilongwe that the assertions that he was meant to collect the money which Chaponda claimed was to be donated to the ruling party .
During Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) search in the house of the former minister last year, they found money in various currencies and they were told by Chaponda that the money was realised from a Blue Night function which the DPP) held in Blantyre.
Chaponda told the bureau that the money belongs to DPP but when graft-busting body inquired from DPP treasurer-general Henry Mussa, also Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism and Nicholas Dausi, about the issue, they both denied that the money was realised from the Blue Night.
In his testimony, Dausi who had earlier met Chaponda at the court face-to-face, said the former minister who is also DPP vice president (southern region) must have been confused to mention him when quizzed by ACB.
“As regargs me knowing anything about the money, the answer is ‘no’,” Dausi testified.
He added: “Maybe he was confused to mention me because the strength and stamina when one is faced with a situation like this, whether as MP or Cabinet minister, in such a situation, it’s no use.”
During cross examination, Chaponda’s lawyer Tamanda Chokhotho portrayed Chaponda and wealthy politician who has been one of the officials bankrolling the DPP with his personal money as he has a number of properties.
Dausi said he was aware of Chaponda’s financial status and his contribution to the DPP, saying indeed he had pumped a lot of cash donations to the party and would not be suprising that he was intending to do the same with the money stashed in suitcases.
He also said Chaponda had pledged to donate K40 million to DPP after selling one of his “many” properties owned by Chaponda Investment Trust.
Lawyer Chokhotho asked Dausi on what he made of a statement that Chaponda said the money belonged to DPP after his pledge.
“Having made a commitment to donate the money to the DPP, at that point the money belonged to DPP, is that right?” Chokhotho asked Dausi.
Dausi responded that in the context of the discussion between Chaponda and the party on the matter, it would be ideal to state the money belonged to DPP.
Between US$58,000 and MK124 million in cash was found after a search at Chaponda’s home last year.
ACB Principal Legal and Prosecution Officer, Imran Saidi maintained that Chaponda had lied by claiming that the money belonged to DPP when subsequent information indicated he had pledged to donate only K40 million.
But Chokhotho argued that the donation to DPP was mixed with other case
The cash stashed in suitcases reminds Malawians of the biggest corruption scandal called ‘Cashgate’ scam 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.
Chaponda is answering three charges which include giving false information to ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency. He has constantly denied any wrong doing.
Political commentators have said the case of Chaponda, who is DPP vice-president responsible for its Southern Region, signifies the existence of high-level corruption in government in view of the position that he holds in the party and held in government before his dismissal.
The former minister, who is Mulanje South West member of Parliament (MP), denies any wrong doing.
Hearing of the case will continue in Zomba on March 6.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :