22 November 2017

Malawi: Some DPP MPs Feel Chaponda Corruption Trial Is Deliberately Being Dragged

Some ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members of Parliament (MPs) who are for pro-George Chaponda, former Agriculture Minister's who is currently answering to corruption-related charges over a maize procurement contract with Zambia, have expressed their displeasure on the way the State is handling the case.

One of the MPs feels government is "tactically and deliberately" dragging the case so that they finish with Chaponda's political career pointing a figure on Leader of the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa as the one pulling politica strings for his personal political benefits.

"The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in a case continues to stagger with evidence. Earlier the defense noted late service of disclosures by the state prompting presiding magistrate to warn against deliberate delay of the case. Last week the state indicated a move to seek adjournment citing businesses of some witnesses. The defense successfully challenged the intentions.

"Come Tuesday, the state came to court armed with a recusal application against chief resident magistrate Simeon Mdeza. The conduct of ACB underscores monotones political persecution within the ruling party," said the source.

Added another MP:"We have being following eagerly as events unfold. From the beginning when the house of Hon Chaponda was subjected to search without him being told earlier to the delays in a case. We want some speed trial so that he be vindicted,"

ACB were set to parade four witnesses in the case who include three ministers to testify against a former cabinet colleague.

Instead, State counsel Macmillan Chakhala brought the recusal application.

The State argues that the Magistrate made a comment when the defence and State met in his Chambers which commended the credibility of Transglobe Produce Export Limited.

One of the directors at Transglobe Produce Export Limited, Rashid Tayub, is Chaponda's co-accused in the charges linked to the controversial procurement of maize from Zambia.

Lead counsel for the defence team, Tamando Chokhotho, observed the State application was erroneous as it has quoted a wrong Section and used "a wrong forum", saying the appropriate one should have been Section 75 (1).

The State is proposing that the matter should be transferred to the High Court.

Mdeza adjourned the matter to Wednesday at 2.30PM to rule whether he recuses himself or not.

Jai Banda, a member of the defence legal team, recently said further delays of the proceedings is "unacceptable" as it is affecting political career of Chaponda and business of Rashid Tayub.

Chaponda is a Parliamentarian for Mulanje South West and also governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President for the South.

The lawyer told the court that Chaponda's "political career is at stake."

On Tayub, Banda said: "The case has affected business of Transglobe both locally an internationally."

The lawyer said the concern from his clients is "to have the matter finalised as quickly as possible because they would want to be vindicated."

One of the defence alweyers Madalo Banda accused the State , represented by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), of "unjustifiable and inexcusable" delays.

State Counsel Macmillan Chakhala said the defence was just making " a mountain out of a mound."

Chaponda is answering three charges out of the four which include giving false information to the graft-busting body, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency.


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