Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Peoples Party have lashed out at President Peter Mutharika for saying he would not fire Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister Gorge Chaponda on allegations he had a hand in Zambia/Malawi maizegate.
The opposition is reacting following the statement by Mutharika on Friday at Kamuzu Palace during the swearing in ceremony of the commission of inquiry officials on the maizegate that he would not act on allegations to fire Chaponda and suspend the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) CEO Foster Mulumbe on the same infamous maizegate issue.
MCP spokesperson Jessie Kabwila said any civilised and progressive leader would have asked Chaponda and Mulumbe to step aside to allow the inquiry go on smoothly.
“This decision by the President is questionable. There are more questions than answers,” said Kabwila.
Peoples Party (PP) spokesperson Noah Chimpeni said leaving Chaponda and Mulumbe in their positions would compromise the investigations and the outcome of the inquiry results.
Chaponda and Mulumbe are alleged to have indulged in corruption. But they deny any wrong doing.
Chimpeni said PP are “dismayed” with the development.
“We expected the President to relieve the Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda of his duties to allow smooth investigations . How can Malawians expect the Commission to do its job without interference when the Minister is still in his office? He is likely to interfere with their work .
“The man is already busy bellyaching trying to defend himself before the Commission starts its work. The people appointed to do the work are people of high integrity, and highly qualified. However they will be working in a highly politically polluted environment as such Malawians may be given a raw deal ,” said PP spokesman.
Chimpeni continued: “May be we are expecting too much from the President. He may not have the spine to ask Chaponda to step aside or at least push him .
“The main problem is that most of the current crop of minister were appointed based on two facts : Some spent a night in a police cell in Lumbadzi , others were by his side when he was bereaved. Therefore the President may be thinking of that . By so doing he is putting the minister first , Malawians second. “
However, chairman of the inquiry, Justice Anastanzia Msosa (retired) said the inquiry commissioners will do their job without fear or favour.
President Mutharika has given the commissioners up to January 31 to come up with the results into the inquiry how Admarc procured the 100000 metric tonnes maize.
A few months ago, Head of DfID for West and Southern Africa and the UK based executive director of Oxfarm accused Admarc of failures in transparency and accountability in the procurement of the maize.
Government claims it has not paid a single kwacha on the maize.
Mutharika instituted a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the scam in which Admarc reportedly bought maize at K26 billion from the Zambian company and it is believed that Malawi could have saved about K9.5 billion if it had bought the grain directly from the Zambian government.
The use of a middleman, Kaloswe, is raising suspicion when Malawi government is on record to have said Chaponda was in discussion with the Zambian government over the maize deal, and at some point, engaged in discussions directly with Zambian President Edgar Lungu.
The commission is being chaired by former Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa, Solicitor General Janet Banda, auditor Isaac Kayira and Mike Chinoko.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :