2 February 2018

Malawi: Chaponda Claims Cash Found Stashed in Suitcases Belongs to DPP - Witness

Photo: Nyasa Times
Embattled Agriculture minister George Chaponda (file photo).

Former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda claims that thousands of dollars and millions of Kwachas found by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) stashed inside suitcases hidden in the bedroom of his bedroom during a search, belongs to the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Chaponda is second-in-command in DPP as its vice-president responsible for the Southern Region and parliamentarian for Mulanje West.

He is being accused of corruption in the procurement of maize from Zambia.

Testifying before Zomba Magistrate Court on Thursday, prosecution third witness Robert Mbuzi Mkandawire, senior investigations officer for the ACB, who searched Chaponda's residence in Lilongwe where they found money in various currencies, said they were told by Chaponda that the money was realised from a Blue Night function which the DPP held in Blantyre.

Mkandawire stated that when the graft-busting body inquired from DPP treasurer-general Henry Mussa, also Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism and Nicholas Dausi, a senior DPP member and Minister of Information and Communications Technology, about the issue, they both denied that the money was realised from the said event.

Between US$58,000 and MK124 million in cash was found after a search at Chaponda's home last year.

The cash stashed in suitcases reminds Malawians of the biggest corruption scandal called 'Cashgate' scam which involved fraudulent government payments for services not rendered and for "ghost pensions" to fictional government retirees.

Corrupt officials pocketed the money, using it to buy smart cars and mansions -- or simply stuffed bundles of US dollars and Malawi kwacha in car boots, handbags and pillowcases, hence the "cash" in "Cashgate.

Chaponda is answering three charges which include giving false information to ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency. He has constantly denied any wrong doing.

He was arrested by ACB in July last year on suspicion of corruption relating to procurement of the K26 billion maize from Zambia.

Meanwhile, Zomba chief resident magistrate (CRM) Paul Chiotcha then adjourned the matter to February 8 2018 for the State, through ACB, to parade more witnesses..

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