Government given ultimatums
Delegates to the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) 5+1 All-inclusive Stakeholders Conference Thursday came up with a number of recommendations which include a call for government to charge former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda on his involvement in the famous Maizegate and the money that was seized from his home by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
The recommendations from the two-day conference that ended Thursday in Blantyre were made from groups comprising delegates.
Presenting recommendations from the group dubbed ‘Interested Group’, leader of Transformation Alliance Moses Kunkuyu said Maizegate centred on one man who seems to be silent at the moment but the government should not relent on making justice prevail.
“Chaponda should be charged in the next 30 days. He was found with a lot of foreign cash in his home but we have not heard anything tangible from the ACB. The issue of Maizegate is long overdue; we demand a closure to it. Nobody should be spared because they are affiliated with government,” Kunkuyu said.
Kunkuyu said government should consider revising maize prices, arguing the public grain marketer Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation is selling maize at higher prices than local traders.
“There are a lot of things that government has to look at. We discussed that in 90 days, the Land Bills should be taken back to Parliament for appropriate amendments, same with the Electoral Reforms Bill. National Identification registration should be suspended because we are told we will use those cards for elections and yet not all stakeholders were involved in the process,” he said.
Federalism from the South and North Group representative Dan Msowoya asked government to conclude investigations into the murder of The Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa and ACB Director of Corporate Affairs Issa Njauju.
“We discussed that there should be a joint special committee comprising ministers, Pac officials and other groups of people that will look at the implementation of the outstanding resolutions that were made in 2016. Failure to meet these recommendations shall lead to demands for an early election,” he said.
The Youth and Students Group speaker, Mzuzu University Students Union president Wazamazama Katatu, called on the review of the University Act, further demanding the re-opening of University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in 14 days.
Faith-based organisations called on government to desist from using Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) for advancing government propaganda.
“Pac should seek a court injunction against traditional leaders who are paraded on the state broadcaster to tell the nation lies about the current situation. MBC should not be used as a political ground and this should happen in 30 days. If this does not happen, we shall demand Parliament to withdraw funding from MBC,” demanded one member.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu said government has taken the recommendations with a sober mind and will wait for Pac on the resolutions.
“Those outlined were recommendations. We are going to wait for Pac to bring the resolutions and we are eager and ready to work together for the betterment of the nation. These ultimatums given do not make sense because the reality on the ground is different from how people look at things. Not everything is government’s fault or can be worked on by government; concerted efforts are what we need,” he said.
ACB Deputy Director Reyneck Matemba said the bureau is aware of the issues raised by the delegates but was quick to say lack of funds and human resources hinder progress of some cases.
“The issue of Maizegate is not just a local investigation; this issue also involves another country altogether. The very same people, the same little allocation of money is what we use to run such investigations. We cannot conclude an investigation, crossing the border, in three months. That is impossible,” Matemba said.
The conference, which was patronised by both government, CSOs and other interested groups, was held under the theme ‘The State of Governance and Public Trust: Reclaiming Our Destiny’.
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