Former chief executive officer for the State produce trader, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), Foster Mulumbe on Tuesday told the Magistrate’s Court in Blantyre that former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Dr George Chaponda, flouted procedures for the supply maize.
Mulumbe implicated Chaponda when he appeared before the Court Tuesday morning as first witness in the case.
He said Chaponda referred to him Transglobe as a potential supplier and canavassed for the State grain trader to buy maize from the company.
In his testimony, Mulumbe said after Chaponda introduced Transglobe, one of the directors of the company Tayub, approached him for a possible deal to supply the staple grain to Admarc.
He testified against Chaponda and implicated him during cross examination when lead counsel for the defence team, Tamando Chokhotho, asked him why Admarc refused the offer from Transglobe a local company the contract to buy maize from Zambia.
Mulumbe told the court that Chaponda was furious with the performance of Zambia Coopertaive Federation (ZCF) during meetings of the humanitarian response committee headed by Vice-President Dr Saulos Chilima.
“It was at these meetings that Chaponda expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the supplier [ZCF],” Mulumbe told the court.
“He [Chaponda] said he did not see any point why we should be importing maize when there was a lot in the country already. After these meetings, Chaponda called me asking about Transglobe and I told him I don;t have an offer from them. In all our meetings, he [Chaponda] was only focusing on Transglobe,” Mulumbe testified.
The former Admrc boss told the court that the former Agriculture Minister then forwarded him an e-mail from Transglobe attached with a copy of an export licence.
Mulumbe said despite that Chaponda did not directly instruct him to buy maize from Transglobe Produce Export Limited, there was canvassing from the former minister.
“Directly, I can say [that] at no point did Chaponda instruct me to buy maize from Transglobe, “ Mulumbe told the court.
“But you have seen the emails from Chaponda that were sent to him from Tayub. He made phone calls, asking me if I had anything from Transglobe and, during our meetings, he mentioned a number of suppliers, of which Transglobe stood out,” said Mulumbe.
According to the charge sheet, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) filed four charges, of which Chaponda is answering three and Tayub of Transglobe Produce Export Limited is answering one of the charges.
The Bureau arrested Chaponda, Rashid Tayub and Grace Mijiga Mhango for their involvement in the procurement of maize from Zambia by Admarc.
The ACB had received a complaint alleging that procurement procedures were not followed in the maize deal.
The graft bursting body netted the three in July this year after establishing that offences were committed in the maize procurement deal.
Chaponda, a Parliamentarian for Mulanje South West and also governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President for the South, was charged with corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office, and possession of foreign currency, contrary to Section, 25A(1), 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act, and Regulation 25A(1) of the Exchange Control Regulations, as read with Section 3 of the Exchange Control Act, respectively.
While Mijiga Mhango was charged with forgery, contrary to Section 351of the Penal Code.
Chaponda and Tayub pleaded not guilty to the charges.
State counsel Macmillan Chakhala said other witnesses to be paraded are members of parliament who are meeting in Lilongwe and the other to testify is currently in India and would be available until next month.
He indicated the State would parade 22 witnesses to testify against in the case.
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