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He is laughing at us

Being the untouchable he is, deposed Agriculture Minister George Chaponda decided to throw away his rather measured and wise demeanor of remaining silent in the face of the political predicament he is in as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cast away.

In case you are new to the issue, I will dutifully fill you in.

President Peter Mutharika succumbed to public pressure in February this year to fire from Cabinet his confidant after Chaponda bungled the importation of maize from Zambia to feed the 6.5 million Malawians the DPP government lied were in need of food after the bad harvest of the last season due to bad rains.

A lot of shenanigans surrounded the deal and they included breaking of procurement laws, forgery, lying and, more crucially, suspicion of corruption and bribery in the award of contracts.

After this media house led the onslaught in exposing these shenanigans, two commissions of inquiry were instituted to delve deep into the issues and discover the truth on behalf of Malawians.

Both commissions of inquiry—the presidential one led by former Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa and the joint parliamentary committee— found Chaponda and others to be in the wrong.

Specifically on Chaponda, the presidential appointed Msosa-led commission found that his “conduct in his dealings on the matter with Transglobe, a locally registered company and a trader of maize, was most inappropriate, suspicious and raising issues of corrupt practices.”

The commission recommended to the President that state institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) should take up the matter and prosecute Chaponda.

But against the conventional political wisdom of shutting one’s mouth when you know you are a public irritant, Chaponda addressed a rally at Chonde in his constituency of Mulanje South where he spat venom into the face of the nation and declared he is ready to be arrested because he did nothing wrong but was trying to do the best for us, Malawians.

He even claimed that although investigations were conducted on him and clearances given we, Malawians, who have some pathological hatred for him, cannot shut our mouths.

Due to the nature of my job as an editor but also as a patriotic Malawian who is very much interested in what is going on in Mother Malawi, I have thoroughly gone through the reports of both commissions.

Nowhere in both reports was Chaponda cleared. In fact, it is an insult to Malawians for Chaponda or anybody else to make that claim.

That is why the ACB is still on his case. That is why on February 21 ACB agents went to search the former minister’s house where they inadvertently found stashes of cash in all manner of foreign currencies amounting to K166 million.

As far as I know the bureau has consistently said they are still on Chaponda’s case and forensically analysing the data from the gadgets they found on him.

But I know the reason why Chaponda said what he said at Chonde and it is to laugh and spit venom at honest hardworking Malawians who want a fair and just Malawi for themselves and their children.

The former minister believes that as long as Peter Mutharika is at the State House, he has protection that stops State institutions such as ACB from going after him so that he has a day in court.

Otherwise where is he getting the guts of even lying and telling Malawians that investigations have cleared him? Which investigations and when was he cleared and by who?

But this is what Malawi has come to, where some people feel they are above the law.

The ACB this week arrested fired Roads Authority Chief Executive Officer Trevor Hiwa for abuse office after, among other charges, he awarded his own company a road contract worth K217 million.

Certainly this is a step in the right direction to deal with people who behave as if this country is a personal estate where they can do anything that pleases them to line up their pockets.

Yet Malawians are wondering when the forensic investigation on Chaponda will be concluded.

In Mulanje he rightly told us that he is innocent until proven guilty. But that can only happen if he has a day in court and not by deliberately twisting facts that he is cleared.

Chaponda is having some hearty laugh at us.

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