The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has distanced itself from remarks Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda made that his being targeted on maize saga smacked of North-South antagonism.
Nyasa Times on Monday quoted Chaponda speaking on Capital Radio’s Daybreak Malawi program that he is being targeted because he is “a minister from the south” considering that Finance, Economic planning and development minister Goodall Gondwe, whose ministry authorised the loan guarantee to buy maize from Zambia, was in the clear.
Chaponda said Gondwe was not in hot soup because he is from north Malawi.
He remarks were widely condemned by commentators, accusing the embattled minister of playing an ethnic card in a desperate move to create collateral damage.
And DPP spokesman Francis Kasaila said the party saw such remarks as Chaponda’s personal sentiments and not a reflection on any divisions in the party.
Kasaila, who is also minister of foreign affairs, said DPP did not see the issue of maizegate as a tribal or regional issue.
“What Chaponda said is his personal views and not the position of DPP,” said Kasaila.
Opposition People’s Party (PP) member Ackson Kalaile Banda has since condemned Chaponda for claiming that people from the north are the ones championing for his downfall.
He argued that Chaponda was reported in the newspapers that he was chased from his own constituency two months ago, “was that people from the north?”
Kalaile Banda further asked: “Commission of Inquiry chaired by retired Chief Justice Anastanzia Msosa recommended that he should be investigated by ACB because of his dubious role played [in maize importation]. Is that people from the north?”
He queried why Chaponda hates people from the north so much: “Last time he advised late president Bingu wa Mutharika that DPP can do without the people from north.”
Meanwhile, a parliamentarian from north Malawi, Khumbo Kachali of Mzimba South West said in parliament that he was pleased that Chaponda is out as Leader of the House and that Kondwani Nankhumwa is the remaining the House chief, saying parliament has started enjoying fruits of his leadership.
In the House there was uproar by most opposition MPs who came up with a series of points of order, demanding that Chaponda should not be reinstated as Leader of the House and that he should also be removed from the House.
Other MPs suggested that embattled Chaponda should also resign as a minister following the release of a report by a commission of inquiry President Peter Mutharika appointed to probe how Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) imported maize from Zambia.
In the report presented to Mutharika on Saturday, the commission recommended that Chaponda should be investigated further by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) over a conduct that was “most inappropriate, suspicious and raising issues of corrupt practices” in Malawi’s questionable importation of relief maize from the neighbouring country.
The commission recommended that Chaponda should further be investigated by the Anti Corruption Bureau.
A socio-economic commentator Emily Mkamanga said in quotes reported in the press that the Maizegate scandal has opened many people’s eyes “and their resolve that the leaders must exhibit high moral and professional sides.”
And Chancellor College political scientist Boniface Dulani highlighted that the commission of inquiry report clearly says Chaponda’s dealings on the maize issue was suspicious and the reputation of DPP being projected “is not good as well as that of the President and simply because of one person.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :