BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s fraud bursting body, Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB)representatives say they will critically analyse the ruling by the Zomba Chief Resident Magistrate Court which found former Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda and businessman Rashid Tayub with no case to answer on all counts bordering on corruption.
The charges had followed revelations of a dubious maize purchase deal in Zambia.
ACB’s lead prosecutor Macmillan Chakhala told Malawi News that the bureau needed time to reflect on the ruling before making a decision on their next course of action.
“What I can say is that we are not satisfied. The court only had to use the test of premafacie case but clearly the court has used a beyond reasonable doubt measure which is too high at this stage,” he said.
Chaponda was answering three counts of giving false information to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), corruptly attempting to obtain an advantage and Illegal possession of foreign exchange while Tayub was answering one count of persuading public officer to exercise his duties corruptly.
But Chief Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotcha dismissed all the counts, saying the state failed to prove the charges to a level where in absence of defence, a reasonable tribunal would convict them.
“Giving false information to ACB on Section 14 is not an offence unless it is on a matter under investigation. The warrant which the ACB investigators had was authorising them to investigate corrupt practices in relation to maize purchase in Zambia and ACB investigator Mr. Robert Mbuzi Mkandawire said Chaponda did not give them any false information on that matter. If at all he lied about the MK90 million that it belonged to DPP, that was not the issue under investigation,” he said.
Chiotcha also dismissed Chaponda’s count of corruptly attempting to obtain an advantage, saying the state did not adequately prove the element of corruption in the way Chaponda allegedly tried to influence Admarc boss Foster Mlumbe to award a maize importation deal from Zambia adding that Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe adequately addressed the issue of foreign currency which Chaponda was found with.
“Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe told the court that he gave Dr. Chaponda a permit to keep the foreign currency. He said the custody of forex is responsibility of Minister of Finance but delegated to the Reserve Bank of Malawi. I believe that the Minister was justified to give the permit to Chaponda because delegated authority can be varied or cancelled by the original authority,” he said.
Defence lawyers Tamando Chokhotho for Chaponda and Jai Banda for Tayub said they were satisfied with the ruling.