LILONGWE (Lord Denning SC) – Allow me to begin with expressing huge disappointment in the parliamentary joint committee for addressing Mr. George Chaponda (who I will hereinafter be simply referring to as Chaponda) as “Honorable Minister” or “Mr. Minister” while his suspension from this position has not been lifted by the courts. As far as the laws of this country are concerned, Chaponda is not a minister at present for the effect of Court Order.
Chaponda opened his submissions with an attempt to explain on what a parastatal organization (in this case ADMARC) is all about. He rightly explained that the role of the government over a parastatal organization is to come in with policy direction. This is nothing, but the truth. The nitty gritty aspects of its business are done under its discretionary power, authority and competence.
On 18th May 2016, Chaponda led a team to Zambia where they mate president Lungu and his team in what is clearly a government to government negotiation. This may fit his role as Agriculture Minister and cabinet envoy then. On 19th May, Chaponda and his team left Zambia.
On 21st October, Chaponda went back to Zambia to further discuss the trade deals. This, apparently, appears to be too much peeping of his nose into the nitty gritties of the deal, which were supposed to be done by the ADMARC itself.
Chaponda, in his statement, said when he went to Zambia, he (and his team) did not find any trader with supplies satisfying the demand and target. The Malawi govt wanted 300, 000 metric tons. Zambia govt only authorized externalization of 100, 000 metric tonnage. This is according to his remarks.
Some distance from this point in his explanation, Chaponda said that in Zambia, there were SO MANY traders who were interested to make the maize trade deals with Malawi only that they were affected by a ban that the Zambian govt had effected to stop exporting of Maize from Zambia.
He apparently forgot that he had just told the committee that “they did not find any trader with supplies satisfying the contract amounts. This is a glaring contradiction which is exposing him as someone who is not ready to transact with the much-needed truth.
When fixed with a question relating to his transactions, at personal level, with Transglobe (a newly named accomplice in the scam), Chaponda Chaponda submitted that Transglobe refused to deal with ADMARC, but insisted to deal with him instead. Surprisingly, Chaponda accepted that. In fact, on the 21st October, Chaponda introduced Transglobe to the government of Zambia in a meeting which took place at Zambia’s State House. He pleaded with the Zambian government to give Transglobe an export clearance, but Zambian govt rebuffed his plea while reminding him that the deal has to be govt to govt.
Why did Chaponda go all that extra mile? Here is Transglobe which indicated to Chaponda that it has 25, 000 metric tons here locally in Malawi and 50, 000 metric tons in Zambia to which it was seeking the rebuffed clearance and told the minister that the price for maize which is locally available in Malawi is USD400 per ton while that to be sourced from Zambia would be at USD345 per ton. Ladies and gentlemen, do you see what I see? A combination of crooks inclined at effecting fraud.
On the Letter of Credit, the sum of which is the contract amount of USD34.5 million, Chaponda informed that the Reserve Bank of Malawi in full consultation with the Ministry of Finance, issued the same to the supplier. On the other hand, the Reserve Bank had earlier on denied issuance of Letter of Credit and so did the Minitry of Finance deny knowledge of the same.
Chaponda is on digital record to have reported in the parliament that “the government has procured maize from Romania.” Today, Chaponda shifted his tune and claimed that he reported of government’s commitment and not purchase. But the wording “government has procured maize from Romania” doesn’t sound like expression of commitment to me.
He lied that the main reason why he used personal email address other than official one in his communications with Transglobe was because someone had stolen his office computer from his office. Perhaps after a quick conscience revision, he remembered that it doesn’t require a specific computer to log in to official addresses (but all what matters are credentials) he descended upon poor functioning of GWAN (which, I guess, means Government Wide Area Network).
In all this ladies and gentlemen, in Chaponda I see a dangerous crook, manipulator and a liar capable of lying in all colors available on earth. He is not ready, at all, to deal with the truth. He was, in his submission, vibrating from lies to lies, each time passing the middle point where the truth was laying.
This is why he consistently made an excuse through repeatedly playing an analogous card of a burning house. He claimed that PAC was pressurizing government to source maize and that his office had staggering assessment figures of hunger-stricken citizens, the combination of which, he said, represented a burning house.
He said when a house is burning, anybody uses whatever measures necessary including breaking the door to rescue anyone and anything in the burning house. Since the house was, apparently, not burning, Chaponda and whosoever chose to break the door, did so for simply wanting to break it.
Views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and not Malawi NewsNow