President Peter Mutharika wants the embattled Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda to be reinstated as Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly despite recommendations by commission of inquiry on Zambia maize procurement saga that he should be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Chaponda who was this week reinstated as minister by the Supreme Court of Appeal following a suspension by the High Court in Mzuzu over his involvement in the trending maize-gate saga, has been questioned about his role in the whole maize procurement process.
Mutharika’s instituted commission of inquiry led by retired Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa while confirming Nyasa Times’ earlier reports that money did not exchange hands in the maize deal, has found Chaponda and a privately owned company Transglobe of suspicious corrupt practices on the procurement of the maize from Zambia.
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 at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Saturday afternoon.
Nyasa Times can reveal that Mutharika met with Goodall Gondwe who is DPP’s vice-president for north, Dr Hetherwick Ntaba vice-president for central, Chaponda who is DPP’s vice-president for south, Bright Msaka, party secretary general, Grizeder Jeffrey as well as administrative secretary, Francis Mphepo among others.
Mutharika’s spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani feigned ignorance of the meeting when contacted, saying “I don’t know anything about that meeting. Since its a party meeting, I can’t comment on that.”
Jeffrey said was attending funeral when contacted, but our sources confirmed that during the caucus that started at 2pm and ended at around 4:30pm, Mutharika vowed to push for Chaponda’s reinstatement despite the issue creating divisions in the party with some of those who were in the meeting opposing it.
“According to the President, honorable Chaponda is cleared by the inquiry because the report doesn’t show anywhere that money exchanged hands.
“We could not fight it but this will further divide the party considering the tension currently the maize issue has generated in the country,” explained our source who attended the meeting.
Mutharika, according to our source, is expected to write the Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya on Monday morning to reinstate Chaponda as Leader of House.
Nyasa Times can confirm that some of the government’s Parliamentarians have since started strategizing on fighting Mutharika’s decision.
“As I am talking to you some MPs have are meeting and have vowed to boycott Parliamentary meetings if the Speaker effects the decision. I just don’t know how the party will react to that but this bad for its image.”
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.
Parliament is meeting for a mid-year budget review meeting.
Mutharika appointed Msosa to chair the commission of inquiry with Mike Chinoko, the Solicitor General Janet Banda and public auditor Isaac Kayira as part of her team.
The inquiry’s findings are based on the testimony of witnesses interviewed by the Commission both in Malawi and Zambia; the observations of the Commission as it interviewed the witnesses; and on the analysis of the documentation made available to the Commission.
Aside recommending Chaponda and Transglobe’s probing, the commission noted that procedures were flouted, ministry of Justice officials were completely left out whilst Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) officials were reckless in the whole maize procurement process.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :