Instead of calling the other witnesses to the stand in the trial against former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda over a maize procurement contract, on Tuesday, the State asked Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza to recuse himself from the corruption –related trial.
Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) were set to parade four witnesses in the case who include three ministers to testify against a former cabinet colleague.
Instead, State counsel Macmillan Chakhala brought the recusal application.
The State argues that the Magistrate made a comment when the defence and State met in his Chambers which commended the credibility of Transglobe Produce Export Limited.
One of the directors at Transglobe Produce Export Limited, Rashid Tayub, is Chaponda’s co-accused in the charges linked to the controversial procurement of maize from Zambia.
Lead counsel for the defence team, Tamando Chokhotho, observed the State application was erroneous as it has quoted a wrong Section and used “a wrong forum”, saying the appropriate one should have been Section 75 (1).
The State is proposing that the matter should be transferred to the High Court.
Mdeza adjourned the matter to Wednesday at 2.30PM to rule whether he recuses himself or not.
Chaponda, who is also governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president responsible for Southern Region and Mulanje South West member of Parliament (MP), is answering to three charges out of the four, which include giving false information to the ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and illegal possession of foreign currency.
On the other hand, Tayub is answering charge of persuading a public officer to misuse his position. They both pleaded not guilty.
The State which paraded its first witness—former Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe and former Admarc director of operations Feckson Kantonga —indicated it would parade 22 witnesses to testify against in the case.
Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe, Information and Communications Technology Minister Nicholas Dausi and Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Henry Mussa will be called to give evidence against Chaponda.
Presidential adviser on National Unity and Parliamentary Affairs Symon Vuwa Kaunda is also expected to testify as State witness.
President Peter Mutharika launched an investigation in January into the government order for 100,000 tonnes of Zambian white maize, after an opposition leader there said he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per ton instead of the $215 the consignment was worth.
Chaponda was arrested in July, sacked and charged with abuse of office and possession of foreign currency without lawful justification.
He pleaded not guilty to all corruption-related charges and was released on bail.
Malawi was importing maize to ease food shortages triggered by a severe drought that swept the region in 2016.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :