AT least three Cabinet ministers have given statements and have been disclosed as witnesses in the corruption case involving former minister of Agriculture George Chaponda, one of the directors of Transglobe Limited Rashid Tayub and Grace Mijga Mhango of Grain Traders Association.
According to the disclosure of witnesses served to the defence by the State, which The Daily Times has seen, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi and Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Henry Mussa will be among the listed witnesses.
In a witness statement taken from Gondwe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on March 14 2017, Gondwe said he had very little involvement in the Zambian maize deal, after Chaponda and former Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) chief executive officer (CEO) Foster Mlumbe had been to Zambia for the second time.
Gondwe further said the owner of Transglobe Limited in company of his son and one of DPP members Symon Vuwa Kaunda visited him and asked if they could be allowed to import maize from Zambia at $450 per tonne which Gondwe claims he refused opting to buy maize from Europe.
“Later, Dr. Chaponda wrote me that they needed K24 billion to buy maize from Zambia, I told him that this was unprocedural. Treasury would not allocate resources to Admarc, instead we would let them borrow from the banks and government would issue a sovereign guarantee. Further, all the public procurement requirements as stipulated by the Public Procurement Act and the Office of the Director of Public Procurement would have to be met.
“Later, while I was on holiday abroad, the State President called me and told me that there was a problem with the maize purchases and he had to agree to the formation of a commission of inquiry to probe the maize transactions in Zambia. Dr. Chaponda also called me and told me that he was facing the music alone and since I was on holiday we should meet when I come back,” reads part of the statement.
In the statement, Gondwe further reveals that Mlumbe was adamant that government should not buy maize from Transglobe, who according to Gondwe, wanted to be paid in Zambia.
“Transglobe had wanted to be paid in Zambia but I told them that they were a Malawian company and would be paid in Malawi kwacha,” it reads.
Gondwe further disclosed that he never knew Mhango of Grain Traders Association.
“I do not know Grace Mhango. I have never interacted with her in relation to the maize purchases. I have only read about her in the papers. When I came back from holiday, Dr. Chaponda never raised the issue with me again despite us meeting on several times. I have read that there was a lot of money found at his house, I do not know what the money was for and where it came from,” reads the statement.
Mussa and Dausi made statements in relation to huge sums of money that were found at Chaponda’s residence during a search by the ACB.
“I wouldn’t know why Dr. Chaponda would have money in his house and what it was for,” reads a statement from Dausi.
Last week, ACB disclosed that they have lined up 22 witnesses for the case.
Chaponda, Tayub and Mijiga- Mhango were arrested by ACB in July.
Chaponda is likely to be charged with corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and illegal possession of foreign currency.
Mhango is accused of forgery while Tayub is likely to be charged with influencing a public officer to misuse his public office.
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