Former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda and businessperson Rashid Tayub will know whether they have a case to answer on May 18 in the Zambian maize procurement case.
Zomba chief resident magistrate Paul Chiotcha set the date after the State completed its submissions in the case.
However, prior to the magistrate’s decision, the defence fumed at the State’s assertion that Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodal Gondwe tried to protect Chaponda during his testimony in the case.
In its oral submissions on Monday, lead counsel for the State, Macmillan Chakhala, referred to Gondwe as an elusive witness after he allegedly gave different statements on the issuance of permit to Chaponda to possess foreign currency.
In his testimony during examination, Gondwe told the court that he gave Chaponda the permit in 2004 as minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
But during cross-examination, Gondwe said he issued the licence to Chaponda both as a minister as well as an individual.
The development compelled Chakhala, who is Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) principal prosecution officer, to describe Gondwe as an elusive witness bent at protecting his former Cabinet colleague.
But the assertions did not go down well with the defence with lawyer Tamando Chokhotho rising to respond to the issue, including others that were raised during the submissions. However, the State objected. The magistrate reacted by adjourning the matter for a ruling on whether the duo has a case to answer.
In an interview later, Chokhotho wondered why the State took issues with Gondwe when they were the ones who picked him as their witness.
The defence already made its submissions on why Chaponda and Tayub have no cases to answer.
Chaponda, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for Southern Region, was arrested last year alongside Tayub for suspected corrupt acts in the maize procurement transaction.
Chaponda is answering three charges which include giving false information to the ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency while Tayub is answering to the charge of persuading a public officer to misuse his position. They both denied the charges.