17 February 2017

Malawi Csos to Hold Anti-Govt Demo Over Chaponda - 'Mutharika Needs to Grab His Lifeline'

A nationwide peaceful demonstration will be held to force President Peter Mutharika to dismiss Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Thapatula Chaponda who is officially under probe by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) on corruption and abuse of office.

Chaponda is implicated in the Zambia maize procurement saga.

A commission of inquiry which was headed by former chief justice Anastasia Msosa that was appointed by President Mutharika recommended that Chaponda be investigated by ACB.

Similarly, a joint parliamentary committee which also carried its investigations recommended that Chaponda should be probed.

There have been calls from CSOs, Malawi Law Society and other voices of reason that Chaponda should resign. He has flatly refused that he cannot step down.

The President has been asked to sack him but he has not heeded the call.

One of the organisers of the demonstration, Gift Trapence, the executive director of the Centre for Development of People (Cedep) said failure by President Mutharika to fire Chaponda is an indication that he wants some closest allies to be "above the law."

Trapence accused Mutharika of shielding Chaponda and other corrupt fat cats in his government "to make sure they are above the law".

"This is not what the President committed o do when he was being sworn in

"So for us the next step is for Malawians to demand the President to take action. We cannot live with this impunity," said Trapence.

Meanwhile, a national daily newspaper has said in its editorial comment that concerned Malawians have every right to demonstrate against impunity, corrupt tendencies and detestable sluggishness in governance agencies.

"The seemingly endless foot-dragging in the face of calla for Chaponda to step down and pave way for further investigation into 'corrupt practices' cited by Mutharika's commission of inquiry does not speak well of the President's war on fraud and the national quest for integrity," reads an editorial by The Nation.

It said the finding of the commission of inquiry and Parliament have left Chaponda "too compromised" to be an effective leader both in the National Assembly and Cabinet.

"The looming protests could be a wake-up call and a belated chance for the President to demonstrate that he has a spine to ensure no member of his inner circle is above the law," the paper stated.

It continued: "Mutharika needs to grab his lifeline set the tone for his fight against fraud and silence his doubters who perceive him as inadvertently unresponsive or deliberately toothless."

Chaponda is presume innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law, but the paper pointed out that while presumption of innocence is the hall mark of rule of law, the President "must put cronyism aside and use his discretion" to save the country from the cusp of chaos.

Malawi

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