Embattled former Agriculture Minister George Chaponda finally made bail, after being nabbed in connection with the ADMARC Zambia Maize scandal.
Thousands of people, who flocked to the Blantyre Magistrates Court, withstood the sweltering heat, as they spent a good part of Thursday both within and outside the court to follow developments pertaining to Chaponda’s arrest.
Chaponda was arrested on Wednesday, alongside Rashid Tayub of Trans globe Produce and Export Limited, who is also suspected to have been involved in the ADMARC maize scandal.
Chaponda faces charges of corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency.
On the other hand, Tayub is to answer a charge of influencing a public officer to misuse his office.
Bail conditions will require Chaponda and Tayub to report to the ACB every fortnight, and also report to the ACB whenever they are about to leave Blantyre.
Apart from that they are also supposed to pay MK200 in cash as well as non cash amounting to MK2 million.
The case will return to court on the 9th, 11th as well as the 14th of next month.
This came after Chaponda’s lawyers were denied suspension of the warrant of arrest which the ACB obtained last week.
Officicals from Malawi’s graft busting body the Anti Corruption Bureau have confirmed the arrest of former minister of Agriculture George Chaponda.
Reyneck Matemba who is the Bureau’s Deputy Director confirmed that Chaponda was ealier summoned by the ACB along with one of the Tayub brothers who run Transglobe Produce Export Limited, over their involvement in the Zambia maize saga.
According to a Facebook post on the official page of the Malawi Government, the suspects will be taken to Court after the Bureau has recorded caution statements from them.
The post adds that in December, 2016, the Anti-Corruption Bureau recorded a complaint alleging that procurement procedures were not followed in the procurement of maize from Zambia by ADMARC.
The ACB has been conducting investigation into the matter.
The Bureau sent its officers to Zambia in January where they together with the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia interviewed various people whom it felt had information relevant to the matter.
On 21st February, 2017, the Anti-Corruption Bureau conducted a search and seizure operation on various premises after it obtained search and seizure warrants from the court.
The ACB'sinvestigation had established that there were offences committed in the procurement of maize from Zambia.
On 14th July, 2017, the Bureau obtained a warrant of arrest for the suspects. On 19th July, 2017, the Anti-Corruption Bureau executed the warrants on the three.
Chaponda is likely to be charged with corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency contrary to section, 25A(1), 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and Regulation 25A(1) of the Exchange Control Regulations as read with Section 3 of the Exchange Control Act respectively.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is neither confirming nor denying a report that they are set to arrest the former Minister of Agriculture, George Chaponda, over his alleged involvement in the ADMARC Maize Scandal.
This follows the completion of the investigations by the Bureau, in which ADMARC is accused of flouting procurement procedures when purchasing Maize from Zambia.
Chaponda and other officials of ADMARC were accused of playing a significant role the maize saga.
This was contained in the findings of both the Commission of Inquiry instituted by President Mutharika, and the joint parliamentary committee of Agriculture and Finance that investigated the matter.
Two ADMARC officials, the Chief Executive Officer Foster Mulumbe and Director of Operations Feckson Kamtonga, have been suspended over the scandal.
Chaponda has on several occasions attempted to clear his name, claiming he never had a hand in the mess.
But recently he was quoted in the media disclosing that he can get arrested as many have already gave him judgement on the matter.
Speaking to Capital FM, Senior Public Relations Officer of the ACB, Egrita Ndala, claims the Bureau does not reveal any information implying that they are intending to arrest the former minister.
She added that she is not even aware of the report emphasising that as the ACB such a complex issue would not be made public because that is not how the bureau operates.
In February this year, the ACB raided Chaponda’s home and office in Lilongwe.
This was after a recommendation by the commission of inquiry into Malawi’s maize imports from Zambia that he should be investigated.
The inquiry has discovered that Chaponda involvement in the matter raised numerous questions.
The Bureau seized cash in local and foreign currencies amounting to an accumulated figure of MK200 Million.
After raiding the former minister’s residence, the ACB also searched Mulumbe’s home where files and computers were seized.
Now four months since the incident, both the ACB and the police are maintaining that they are still investigating the matter and cannot make any arrests without completing their investigations.
The Admarc Board is waiting for the government to provide input on the fate of the parastatal’s two senior officials, who were suspended for alleged involvement in the botched Zambia maize deal.
The two officials are Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mulumbe, and Operations Director Feckson Kamtonga.
Some members of the board confided in Capital FM, that a decision was made to fire the two, following the conclusion of investigations by a special committee that was set up by the Board.
Admarc chairman of the Board, James Masumbu, is however feigning ignorance, claiming that they simply gave their recommendations to the government.
Admarc is accused of flouting procurement procedures when it purchased the Maize from Zambia.
It allegedly engaged a private broker, Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Services, a move which could have seen it losing millions of Kwacha.
A number of organisations, including the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) are also investigating the matter.
James Masumbu who is Admarc’s board Chairperson told Capital FM that the disciplinary committee completed its work weeks ago and its findings and recommendations were submitted.
He added that government has not yet given them its input on the matter.
Masumbu however played down rumours that the two who are entangled in the scandal will be fired from their positions as was in the case of George Chaponda who was fired from his position as Minister of agriculture by President Peter Mutharika.
Apart from that, the chairperson was also ignorance on when Capital Hill will give its input on the matter.
Mulumbe and Kamtonga were first suspended from their duties, summoned to a disciplinary hearing and are now waiting to hear from government.
Social commentators have expressed satisfaction with how the matter is being handled by the parastatal, but are disappointed with how Capital Hill is handling it.
They are of the view that the police who are investigating the fire that gutted down the ministry of agriculture’s offices in Lilongwe are showing unprofessionalism.
Since the fire in February this year, law enforcers are yet to inform Malawians on the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage.
The slow approach on the case has exasperated the public which is waiting in anticipation for the wrong doers to be brought to book.
A report on the involvement of Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) officials in the maize purchase scandal with a Zambian broker Kaloswe is still being worked on.