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Peter Mutharika under pressure to fire Chaponda

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Pressure is piling up on President Peter Mutharika to remove George Chaponda as
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice president for the Southern Region
Some influential figures in the DPP politburo want the President to sack Chaponda because “having him in the position is costing the party dearly”.
“The President needs no further proof on why it remains awkward and bad for the party to have someone suspected of immerse corruption deputising him; sooner or later, Dr Chaponda will [need to] be replaced until a time when he has been cleared of all the charges— should that happen,” said a member of the Party’s National Governing Council (NGC).
In an interview yesterday, Chaponda said the court cases remain a private matter to him and cannot be discussed.
“At no time has the NGC discussed my issue and I have attended all meetings,” he said.
In January this year, Mutharika launched an investigation into the government order for 100,000 tonnes of maize from Zambia, after an opposition leader there said he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per tonne instead of the $215 per tonne the consignment was worth.
Then Agriculture minister Chaponda was arrested in July, sacked and charged with abuse of office and possession of foreign currency, among other charges he is facing.
He has pleaded not guilty to both charges as the trial continues.
Social commentator Moses Mkandwire said two months ago that maintaining Chaponda on the position is a silent endorsement of suspected corruption and impunity by the ruling party.
When contacted, DPP spokesperson, Francis Kasaila, was non-committal but said concerns against Chaponda are based on individual opinion and that he remains a senior member of the party.
“We, as a party, are not aware of [calls for] the dismissal. Should there be any developments, there will be communication through our normal channels,” Kasaila said.
Youth activist Charles Kajoloweka said yesterday that Chaponda’s firing is long overdue.
“One would think that the very moral grounds that guided Mutharika to fire Chaponda from Cabinet would also prevail in the party. Retaining him as vice president for the Southern Region raises questions of moral uprightness within the DPP,” Kajoloweka said.

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