High Court has acquitted former Cabinet minister George Chaponda in the Maizegate case after the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) appealed his acquittal by the Zomba Magistrate Court.
Judge Dr Redson Kapindu in his ruling on Tuesday upheld the judgement by Zomba chief resident magistrate Paul Chiotcha who acquitted Chaponda on May 18 2018, after quashing all evidence presented by the graft-busting body in support of the counts, arguing they lacked elements of corruption.
In his ruling, justice Kapindu said ACB’s grounds of appeal were “not valid.”
He also pointed out that the [prosecution failed to prove that Chaponda gave ACB false information.
This corruption-related case involved the procurement of maize from Zambia in 2016— allegations which cost Chaponda his ministerial position and political popularity.
Chaponda, who is legislator for Mulanje South West, was arrested on July 19 2017; five months after President Peter Mutharika fired him from Cabinet as minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development due to public pressure on his alleged role in the controversial procurement of maize from Zambia.
He was answering to three charges of giving false information to ACB, possession of foreign currency and attempting to obtain an advantage by instructing former Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe to offer a contract to Transglobe Produce Export Limited, but the State only appealed against the first two counts.
Justice Kapindu also said ACB failed to prove that the foreign currency was connected to Maizegate.
Chaponda’s lawyer Tamando Chokhotho said he was pleased with the court ruling.
“We had raised preliminary issues that the appeal was not properly filed and was, therefore, not a competent appeal and the court has agreed with us such that the court could have dismissed the appeal without looking at the merit but it went into the merit as well for the sake of public interest the matter had developed,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from ACB.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :