Lazarus Chakwera says George Chaponda’s firing is late
Leader of the Opposition Lazarus Chakwera has described the sacking of Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda as having come late after government property has been destroyed.
Chakwera said President Peter Mutharika should have fired Chaponda long time ago, especially after two reports into the purchase of maize from Zambia implicated him.
Chakwera made the remarks Wednesday in reaction to Speaker Richard Msowoya’s communication from acting Leader of the House that Mutharika has relieved Chaponda of his duties as minister.
“While we appreciate your announcement, it cannot go without comment from the opposition. We welcome the President’s stand to dismiss Honourable Chaponda but it is with great concern that the action is coming after government has lost assets at Capital Hill,” said Chakwera referring to the fire last week which razed down Chaponda’s office at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters in Lilongwe.
Chakwera condemned what he called State arrogance and impunity to handle the Chaponda issue when many voices spoke of the need to fire him. He said the delay to act brings into question the moral standing of the President and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
“The President condemned the media about this. How could he say that?” queried Chakwera while also accusing the executive interference with law-enforcing bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Malawi Police Service and others.
Chakwera observed that Chaponda was not alone in the scandal and asked officers involved to simply recuse themselves.
When the Speaker made the announcement about Chaponda’s firing, members clapped in jubilation.
But boos were heard when Government Chief Whip Henry Mussa stood on point of order and attacked Chakwera for not “respecting” Head of State in his response through usage of some words.
“What the Leader of Opposition said is contrary to the integrity of Head of State,” Mussa said attracting more boos.
Several MPs stood on point of order over the matter until the Speaker asked Chakwera to submit his short speech to be reviewed.
Msowoya said what Chakwera said was his opinion and was entitled to it.
But Salima North West legislator Jessie Kabwila said what the government side was doing was to dignify the impunity which she said was going on in the country.
Mutharika fired Chaponda yesterday following his dubious involvement in the purchase of $34.5 million maize from Zambia to Malawi.
A presidential commission of inquiry chaired by retired chief justice Anastasia Msosa and the joint parliamentary committee chaired by legislator Joseph Chidanti-Malunga recommended that the ACB should further probe Chaponda and his involvement with Transglobe company.
The ACB pounced on Chaponda on Tuesday and found K166 million at his Area 43 house in Lilongwe.
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