The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has lined up 22 witnesses to testify against former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda and two others in the case relating to the Zambian maize import transactions.
When trial resumed at the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court yesterday, ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba said the Bureau was ready to parade the 22 people whose particulars he did not immediately disclose.
Chaponda and his alleged accomplices—Rashid Tayub, director of Transglobe Produce Export Limited and Grace Mijiga-Mhango, a businessperson and chairperson of the Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi (GTPA)—were arrested by ACB last month for their alleged roles in the dubious purchase of maize from Zambia.
The former Cabinet minister, who is also vice-president for the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) responsible for Southern Region and member of Parliament (MP) Mulanje South West Constituency, was charged with two criminal counts of misusing public office and possession of foreign currency without the lawful justification.
On the other hand, Tayub and Mijiga-Mhango were charged with offences of influencing a public officer to misuse public office and forgery, respectively. All the three pleaded not guilty.
In the matter, there are nine lawyers with the State legal team led by Matemba assisted by ACB principal prosecution officers Macmillan Chakhala and Imran Saidi.
On the other side, Chaponda is being represented by private practice lawyers Tamando Chokotho, Madaliso Mmeta, Frank Mbeta and Jai Banda while Tayub has Jai Banda, Lusungu Gondwe and Madalo Banda.
Blantyre chief resident magistrate (CRM) Simeon Mdeza had set August 9, 10, 11 and 14 for trial, but it failed due to the Judiciary support staff strike that lasted for at least four weeks.
Yesterday, the case was adjourned to September 14 2017 after the defence counsel objected to the prosecution’s intentions to make an application to consolidate the case into one charge sheet.
Currently, the bureau has two charge sheets for Chaponda and Tayub who were arrested in Blantyre and the other charge sheet for Mijiga-Mhango who was arrested in Lilongwe. n