Minister of Information, Nicholas Dausi, Tuesday afternoon told Zomba Chief Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotcha that he was of the view that it was out of confusion that former minister of Agriculture, George Chaponda, told Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigators that the money found in his house would be collected by Dausi on behalf the of governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Chaponda was arrested in July last year about five months after the ACB raided his house where they seized stacks of US dollars, Malawi kwacha and other foreign currencies including Namibian dollars, Chinese yuan, Indian rupees and Kenyan shillings.
The former minister reportedly told ACB investigators that K95 million of the seized cash belonged to DPP and would later be collected by Dausi, a thing which, according to ACB, never happened.
Testifying as a ninth State witness before the court sitting in Lilongwe, Dausi said “it is simply not true” that he was supposed to collect the money on behalf of DPP as he does not handle the party’s finances.
“I don’t even know about it. If he mentioned about it, it may have been a process of confusion; maybe he was confused… I must confess that, faced with a situation like that, you may get confused. As regards [my] knowing anything about the money, no I don’t,” Dausi said.
On more than three occasions, the Information Minister—who is also a member of DPP National Executive Committee—maintained that he does not know why Chaponda mentioned his name.
On the other hand, Dausi told the court that he has seen Chaponda donating money to the party such that it would not be surprising that he was intending to do the same when ACB officials raided his Area 43 house.
Chaponda’s lawyer, Tamando Chokhotho, quizzed Dausi on what he made of the statement that Chaponda had pledged to donate K40 million to his party.
“Having made a commitment to donate the money to the DPP, at that point the money belonged to DPP, is that right?” Chokhotho asked the Information Minister.
In response, Dausi said in the context of the discussion between Chaponda and the party on the matter, it would be ideal to state the money belonged to DPP.
ACB Principal Legal and Prosecutions Officer, Imran Saidi, maintained that Chaponda had lied by claiming that the K95 million belonged to DPP when subsequent information indicated that he had pledged to donate only K40 million.
However, according to Chokhotho, his client had indicated that all the money belonged to DPP because the donation was mixed together with other cash.
Apparently, the donation was from proceeds of the sale of one of “the many” properties owned by Chaponda Investment Trust after the trust had resolved to assist the party with the money.
A document purportedly supporting the sale was presented before Dausi by the State so that he could conclude on who owned the house by the time the defendant declared his assets, liabilities and business interests with the Assets Directorate.
Dausi claimed that the directorate had instructed all listed public officers to include in the declaration forms even those properties that they had already disposed of such that there was nothing wrong with Chaponda following that, regarding the sold property.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is also expected to testify on the authenticity of a document which was tendered by the defence as a permit for Chaponda to keep foreign currency.
This is in relation to a count where the former minister of Agriculture is being accused of illegally keeping foreign currency.
Apart from the count of giving false information to ACB, Chaponda is also facing counts of possessing foreign currency in Malawi and attempting to obtain an advantage.
His co-accused Rashid Tayub, Operations Director at Transglobe Produce Export Limited, is answering a change of influencing a public officer to act corruptly.
This is in relation to the controversial purchase of maize from Zambia by the Agricultural Development and Markerting Corporation (Admarc), a thing which was later described as not realistic as it transpired the country already had enough maize stocks at the time such that Admarc was even failing to sell off the grain which it had purchased locally.
The case has since returned to Zomba where hearing will continue from March 6 following its sitting in Lilongwe for two days after it moved to Reserve Bank of Malawi headquarters where the seized cash is being kept.
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