Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Erica Maganga has come in defence of Minister George Chaponda, saying it is the ministry which made mistakes in the press release giving contradictory statements in the misprocurement of maize from Zambia.
Malawi’s flagship newspaper, The Daily Times had put Chaponda on spotlight after he claimed he went to Zambia on two occasion to discuss the maize deal when he led a three man delegation on 8th May, 2016 and then on 11th December, 2016, as a special Envoy of the President Peter Mutharika to meet Zambian leader Edgar Lungu.
But the newspaper in its story titled ‘Chaponda lied onmaize deal’, says the minister might have been to Zambia “more than twice”.
The paper noted that the dates Chaponda mentions “contradicts” with what President Peter Mutharika said on October 21, 2016 at a news conference upon returning to UN summit.
The President is quoted saying on October 21 that Chaponda was in Zambia signing maize purchase deal with President Lungu.
Meanwhile, Maganga told Nyasa Times in an interview that Chaponda went to Zambia only twice as a Special Envoy to President Mutharika only to discus maize deal.
“The Minister went to Zambia in May and October 2016 [and not December]. The ministry has to be blamed for giving wrong date of December, we mixed the Zambian trip with Mbeya Tanzania trip where the minister went to sign for Songwe River Basin Water Development Program,” said Maganga.
Chaponda said he was happy that the ministry has clarified about the dates and they are now on the same page because that is what he has been telling Malawians all along.
The Minister maintained his involvement was minimal as the main buyer of the maize was the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and not his ministry.
There has been calls from civil society organisation (CSOs) for Chaponda and Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe to resign and pave the way for investigations into the issue.
The minister has flatly refused to resign, denying any wrong doing.
Meanwhile, deputy director of information Gideon Munthali has since said there is no way a Minister can resign based on hearsays.
Munthali said the President has set the commission of Inquiry to establish the truth on what really happened.
“So let’s give chance to the commission of inquiry,” said Munthali.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :