Secretary to Treasury and his counterpart at the ministry of Agriculture risk arrest after the High Court in Lilongwe found them guilty of court contempt over tractorgate – the flawed procurement of tractors from India and their subsequent sale.
High Court judge Charles Mkandawire found the secretary to Treasury Cliff Chiunda and the ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Grey Nyandule Phiri guilty for disrespecting a court order.
The court had ordered the two government officials to apologise within 21 days in newspapers over the procurement and disposal of farm equipment including tractors worth K37 billion during the Bingu wa Mutharika regime.
Judge Mkandawire has since set Monday, August 5, 2019 as the day for sentencing.
Contempt of court usually attracts two weeks of imprisonment.
Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has since welcomed the ruling, saying the two deliberately ignored the court order.
“If senior government officers disobey court orders, even from the Supreme Court, then Malawi is not a good place to be,” said Chizuma.
Chizuma said Chiunda and Nyandule Phir set a very dangerous precedent for refusing to obey the court order.
The Bingu administration bought the tractors using a government loan from India which they said was meant to be given to subsistence farmers to improve on agricultural production but ended up selling to powerful and influential politicians and government officials at very low prices.
The issue was brought in the National Assembly by former Dedza east MP Juliana Lunguzi.
Apart from the apology, the 48-page report by the Ombudsman specifically called for prosecution of the officials who were members of the internal procurement committee (IPC) and “presided over the sale of the farm machinery and benefitted from the sale should be prosecuted in accordance with the Procurement Act,” plus an apology by three principal secretaries involved.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :