14 February 2017

Malawi: Fire in Chaponda's Office Believed Arson, Malawi Police Investigating

Fire firefighters have been tackling a major blaze in disgruntled Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda's office at the Capitol Hill in Lilongwe.

A witness described seeing people preparing to evacuate before the offices were gutted, reportedly after being alerted of the expected firre..

Chaponda was at parliament when the fierce fire was raging, charring official documents and other important office equipment in the top floor of the Agriculture ministry headquarters.

The first fire fighting vehicle was stuck in the mud as the vehicles rushed to the scene in the heavy down pour.

Staff from the building were assembling at fire assembling point whilst others were at car park, watching from a distant and helpless as the fire raged.

Chaponda's personal assistant Semion Boyce was among the members of staff who hurriedly left the office when the fire started.

There are no reports of death and injuries yet and the police said they were investigating the matter.

Chaponda has been named in a presidential commission of inquiry as a suspect in corrupt practices in the infamous maizegate, the procurement of maize from Zambia.

People believe the fire is work of arson after findings of the Commission of Inquiry instituted by President Peter Mutharika implicated Chaponda as being suspected of 'inappropriate, suspicious and corrupt' dealings in the maize deal.

When Chaponda appeared before parliamentary inquiry he explained that he used his personal email address rather than the official government one in his communications on the maize deal.

He said his office caught fire and destroyed the IT server.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Rumphi East Member of Parliament Kamlepo Kalua alerted the house on the fire as Chaponda walked out of the House when the Deputy Speaker commented on the fire incident.

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