Malawi tractor-gate scandal: Principal Secretaries guilty

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By John Namalenga Junior

The High Court in Lilongwe has found Principal Secretary for Ministry of Agriculture Gray Nyandule Phiri and Cliff Chiunda Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Finance guilty of contempt of court in the tractorgate case.

High Court judge Charles Mkandawire has however given a chance to legal counsel for the two PSs Chancy Gondwe to submit to the court what he feels would be the appropriate punishment in the case.

The court may impose a fine, send the convict to prison for not more than 2 years or may release the person with conditions.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Gondwe has told the court that his clients having disobeyed an order from Supreme Court can score 2.

As mitigating factors, he further points out that the two respondents are first offenders and already apologized.

Gondwe also submits that the court should take into consideration the ages of the two who are both aged above 50.

One is aged 59 while the other is aged 57.

“The court should consider leniency because they are first offenders and the contract was made when they were not controlling officers, the people who did wrong are no longer in office,” Gondwe said.

He added that they never benefitted from the matter and it is up to the court to consider that as another mitigating factor.

Taking her turn, legal representative for the Office of the Ombudsman has indicated that even if the two respondents hold public offices, they are not above the law. Their age according to her cannot be a mitigating factor as the two are still active. She further believes the two never showed remorse and must get a custodial sentence.

The High Court has reserved its sentence for the two PS' for next week on a date to be advised.




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