The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politburo on Saturday met and agreed to reinstate Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda as Leader of the House in Parliament following a one-week absence.
Chaponda has not been in the House since the start of the Mid-Term Budget Review Meeting last week Monday, prompting President Peter Mutharika to appoint Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa as interim Leader of the House.
The decision to reinstate Chaponda follows a Supreme Court ruling on Friday that an injunction obtained to restrain him from his duties pending an inquiry into Zambia maize procurement deal did not apply to him, but the President.
A highly placed source at State House said Mutharika addressed a caucus where party vice-president and Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodal Gondwe, vice-president (Central Region) Hetherwick Ntaba, Chaponda, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka, DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey and administrative secretary Francis Mphepo were present.
The meeting, which lasted for two and a half hours from 2pm, resolved that Chaponda should be retained as Leader of the House.
“The President is expected to write the Speaker tomorrow [today] morning. According to the President, Chaponda is cleared because the report [of the commission of inquiry] doesn’t show anywhere that money exchanged hands,” the source said.
DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila said he was not aware of the caucus, but he expected the party leadership to act on the matter.
“I am not aware of caucus. But what I know is that we have an interim leader in Honourable Nankhumwa. But after the court ruling and presentation of the report, I am sure the leadership will look into that and make a decision,” he said.
Kasaila also said it would be difficult for him to confirm if a decision was made to reinstate Chaponda because he was not there.