By Faith Kadzanja:
The High Court in Lilongwe is today expected to sentence Secretary to Treasury Cliff Chiunda and Principal Secretary for Agriculture Grey Nyandule Phiri.
The two were last week found guilty of contempt of court over a ruling involving the procurement and disposal of farm equipment bought using $50 million (about K37 billion) borrowed funds.
The government sold tractors to politicians and high-ranking officials at a cheaper price. The scandal has since come to be named Tractorgate.
Presiding judge Charles Mkandawire is expected to deliver a sentence for the two.
Mkandawire recently reserved his ruling on the contempt of court application by the Ombudsman Martha Chizuma which demanded that the ministries of Agriculture and Finance to apologise to Malawians for a specific period for the way the farm equipment were disposed of.
The Supreme Court ordered on February 22, 2019 that the ombudsman had jurisdiction to investigate the Tractorgate scandal.
The ombudsman started investigating the matter after receiving two complaints from former member of Parliament Juliana Lunguzi and a small scale farmer from Rumphi against government on the decision to sell the tractors to some politicians and other commercial farmers contrary to the Loan Authorisation Bill, which was used to purchase the tractors.
After investigations, the ombudsman faulted ministries of Finance and Agriculture on the manner in which they handled the procurement and disposal of the tractors.
Chizuma said she is satisfied with the ruling because the two did not comply with the Supreme Court order which urged them to apologise for 21 days.
“People have to respect the courts and the office of the ombudsman. For the court to agree with us, it is the people of Malawi that have won,” she said.
Phiri apologised once despite the ruling saying they should apologise for 21 days.