The country’s two main opposition parties have questioned President Peter Mutharika’s move to have Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda reinstated as Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly amid corruption allegations as stated by instituted commission of inquiry.
Mutharika’s instituted commission of inquiry on Zambia maize procurement saga led by retired Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa while confirming Nyasa Times’ earlier reports that money did not exchange hands in the maize deal, found Chaponda and a privately owned company Transglobe of suspicious corrupt practices on the maize procurement.
The commission recommended that the two should be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
However, Mutharika despite promising to take action on the commission’s findings, he is backing his right-hand man and potential successor to be reinstated as Leader of Government in Parliament, arguing Chaponda is cleared of any wrong doing since the findings revealed that no money exchanged hands.
Mutharika’s decision follows a two-and-half hours meeting he had with some of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) top officials in the likes of Goodall Gondwe, Dr Hetherwick Ntaba, Chaponda himself, Bright Msaka, party secretary general, Grizeder Jeffrey as well as administrative secretary, Francis Mphepo among others at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Saturday afternoon.
But in an interview with Nyasa Times two of the opposition parties in the country, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Peoples Party (PP) have wondered why Mutharika is defying his own commission of inquiry by backing Chaponda before he is legally cleared on the corruption allegations.
“The President is rushing on the issue. The commission of inquiry confirmed that there was intent of corruption. It is wrong for the President to propose such a thing and it undermines the commission of inquiry he set up,” explained Ezekiel Ching’oma MCP spokesperson.
Ching’oma, who is Lilongwe Rural East Parliamentarian ,said as a party MCP will meet on the issue of having Chaponda reinstated as Leader of Government in Parliament amid reports that some DPP Parliamentarians are planning to boycott Parliament meetings if Chaponda is reinstated.
And PP acting president, Uladi Mussa wondered why Mutharika could not wait until Chaponda is legally cleared on the leveled corruption allegations by both Parliament and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
“Apart from the presidential commission of inquiry, there is also Parliamentary Committee which is also probing the issue. It is therefore wrong to have him back as Leader of Government when Parliament has not tabled a report on the maize saga,” said Mussa.
Mussa said his party would not support Chaponda’s reinstatement and argued that Parliamentarians would feel uncomfortable discussing issues in the House including the maize saga when the minister is not legally cleared.
“It’s disturbing that the President is not finding anything wrong in how the minister handled the maize issue. It won’t be good to be discussing the issue while he is in the Parliament in no any other role but as Leader of Government.”
Mutharika is expected to write the Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya on Monday morning to reinstate Chaponda as Leader of House.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa has been acting as Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly until Chaponda was cleared on the maize saga.
Malawians are calling for Mutharika to fire Chaponda following the commission of inquiry’s findings and recommendations that the ACB should probe the minister and a privately owned company Transglobe of suspicious corrupt practices on the procurement of the maize from Zambia.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :