Malawi’s Former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda has spoken out for the first time after being acquitted by the Zomba Magistrate Court in corruption-related charges regarding the 2017 maize procurement deal from Zambia, saying he has been vindicated that there was no case at all to answer.
Chaponda was found with no case to answer on Friday by Chief resident magistrate (CRM) Paul Chiotcha who also acquitted Rashid Tayub, one of the directors of Transglobe Produce Export Limited, after trashing the State’s evidence in its totality.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times soon after the ruling, Chaponda said his vindication comes following his insistence that everything was done in the best interest of the people in view of the dire food situation we faced.
“Unfortunately, this matter was greatly politicized and the facts were twisted as part of a systematic and vicious smear campaign against me. Notwithstanding the attempts to tarnish my name, I am grateful that the truth has come out today.
“The court has shown without a shadow of doubt that there was no legitimate case against me. In fact, there was never a case even though ACB looked under every bush and every rock, they found nothing because there was nothing to hide.” he told Nyasa Times .
He added that he has absolutely nothing to hide and they also know it even though ACB tried to distort the truth and to mislead the public.
He further expressed his gratitude to President Peter Mutharika for allowing him continue serving the ruling party at top level.
Chaponda is Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice president for the South.
“I am happy and grateful that the President allowed me to continue serving the DPP and I will continue to do so to the best of my ability. It is important that we always uphold the rule of law in this country.
“It is also important we base public discourse and reporting on proper information and on hard facts. Once again I thank the President and the DPP for their continued confidence in me and for allowing me to prove my innocence in the court. It has been a very difficult time for me and my family this past 14 months but we are strong and we have nothing to hide,” he said.
Chaponda was arrested on July 19 last year alongside Tayub, and Grace Mijiga Mhango, a businesswoman and also chairperson of the Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi (GTPA).
Malawi President Peter Mutharika in January ordered an investigation into a $34.5 million government maize order, after a Zambian opposition leader said he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per ton for 100 000 tonnes of Zambian white maize worth $215 a ton.