The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has confirmed it is investigating Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda following a recommendation by the commission of inquiry into Malawi’s maize imports from Zambia.
ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba confirmed the development in an interview yesterday.
“The bureau launched an investigation into the maize procurement saga in January this year where we’ve been investigating the roles that a number of individuals and institutions played in the whole procurement saga. We are also currently conducting a joint investigation with the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia and three of our officers went to Zambia a month ago as part of the investigation. We wish to confirm that the bureau is also investigating the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. George Chaponda,” he said.
The ACB move comes a month after the bureau announced that it had started investigating issues related to the questionable procurement of maize by State produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).
In a separate interview, ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala said the bureau will follow all to logical conclusions within the parameters of the law when conducting the investigations.
“The ACB commenced investigations before the constitution of the [presidential] commission of inquiry which has just released its report. Now that we have received the copy of the report, the bureau is reviewing recommendations from the commission. During the investigations, we will follow logical conclusions within the parameters of the law,” she said.
Ndala said as part of investigations, an ACB delegation of investigators recently travelled to Zambia where it worked with Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission on various investigative elements.
However, Ndala declined to disclose details of what they had found or whom they had spoken to, saying that can prejudice the investigations.
She said the ACB cannot give a specific timeline when investigations may be concluded, because the probe is complex and covers all aspects of the transactions.
However, Ndala assured Malawians that the ACB is doing everything possible to conclude the matter at the earliest time.
She said: “The ACB would like to continue asking for support and patience from the public and wishes to assure Malawians that it is taking the case seriously and is giving it the serious attention it deserves without any fear or favour.”
According to Ndala, cases investigated by the ACB undergo the highest level of professionalism and diligence, as information and evidence collected has to meet the highest test by an independent Judiciary.
Meanwhile, Chaponda and his support staff have relocated to Tikwere Building at his ministry’s Department of Water and Irrigation after his office at Capital Hill was gutted by fire on Tuesday.