Beleaguered National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) deputy chief executive officer Gerald Viola implicated in a K3.3 billion maize deal will know his fate after a final disciplinary hearing to be held in Mangochi on Thursday, Nyasa Times understands.
Nyasa Times can reveal that Viola, who is suspected to have single handedly gave out a contract to Lilongwe based Missie’s Trading through a Local Purchase Order (L.P.O) to supply 10,000 metric tonnes of maize worth K3.3 billion, will appear before the disciplinary hearing where he is expected to defend himself from the charges of fraud, corruption and abuse of office.
Insiders said during an earlier disciplinary hearing which took place at Ku Chawe Lodge in Zomba a few weeks ago, several witnesses including the owner of Missie’s Trading Chrispin Chingola testified against Viola.
“This final hearing will have all the people who testified against Viola during the first hearing come face to face with Viola and tell the committee events leading to the scandal,” said the source.
An investigative report of the issue indicate that Chingola was given the contract through an L.P.O instead of a contract agreement as is per procedure directly by Viola and he demanded 10% of the total contract price.
“Mr. Viola drove to Blantyre in the company of Mr. Chingola using his official Toyota Prado registration number BP 2911 where Mr. Chingola asked fellow businessmen to put together the K330 million which Mr. Viola demanded because (Mr. Chingola) could not raise on his own.”
“Some of Mr. Chingola’s business associates offered to contribute to the kitty, others pledged K50 million, another pledged K30 million. But one of them, Mr. Anack Mbaya questioned how the deal of this magnitude could be given through an L.P.O. This is when the group contacted NFRA management to verify the contract and were shocked when they were told that NFRA contracts such as the one they were talking about are only given by the Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) and through a contract agreement not an L.P.O,” reads part of the investigation report.
The report also reveals that Viola contacted Mbaya where he apologized on the issue and Mbaya presented to the committee messages sent to his mobile number from Viola apologizing on the deal.
Insiders also said some employees are also set to testify against Viola on how he secured a blank L.P.O number 6750 to write details of the contract including his mobile number.
“We have an employee who will testify that he gave the L.P.O book to Viola to photocopy a blank L.P.O which he used to write details of the contract. When we checked the original L.P.O number 6750, it is blank and we have kept it secure so that it helps in our investigation,” said the source privy to the investigation.
The deal has also attracted the attention of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Fiscal Police who are said to have demanded documents in relation with the issue soon after NFRA finalize its disciplinary procedures.
Chingola admitted that he provided information to NFRA management on the deal and that he has been invited to ‘a meeting in Mangochi on the same on Thursday 9th April 2020’.
Mbaya also confirmed that he raised an alarm on the contract ‘because experience tells me huge contracts like these cannot be given through an L.P.O’.
Viola said in an earlier interview with Nyasa Times said that he is aware that some people want to bring him down and disowned the L.P.O.
He denies any wrong doing.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :