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PS Maganga chased out of Parliament for lying

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PRINCIPAL Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture Erica Maganga on Friday had an embarrassing moment when a joint committee of Agriculture and Irrigation and Natural Resources sent her back for allegedly lying under oath in January during an inquiry into the maize deal between Malawi and Zambia.

Maganga walked out of Room 252 at Parliament with her head down as over 20 officials from her ministry looked in surprise after the joint committee Chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga ordered her out of the room.

She had come as early as 9 o’clock in the morning for the 9:30 am scheduled meeting for the cluster meeting to defend her ministry’s allocation of K192 billion for the 2017/18 financial year budget.

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Maganga refused to comment on her ordeal but Malunga said Maganga lied under oath when she said in January she did not know the whereabouts of her boss, the embattled former agriculture minister George Chaponda.

Chaponda had gone to Germany despite a court injunction stopping him from conducting official duties as minister of agriculture.

Malunga therefore said Maganga had no moral ground to meet the committee she had lied to before, hence the decision to send her back.

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A report by the joint parliamentary committee on Agriculture and Irrigation and Public Accounts on the inquiry into alleged corruption in the procurement of maize from Zambia by the Malawi Government through Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) says that the committee found that Maganga lied when she testified that she did not know the whereabouts of Chaponda.

“The committee observed that Mrs Maganga only divulged details of the minister’s trip to Germany after being repeatedly pressed by the committee,” says the report in part.

After Maganga left the room, the meeting progressed well as other officials from the ministry took over from Maganga and responded to the questions by the legislators.

The joint committee was told that K500 million has been set aside from the budget to promote legumes in the wake of smoky prices of tobacco and the unpredictable future of the leaf following intense anti-smoking campaign world- wide.

Government is yet to react to the decision by the committee to send their principal secretary out of a scheduled meeting.

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