Chaponda – Under investigations on corruption but still minister

BLANTYRE (Malawi NewsNow) – A group of civil organisations has resolved to hold nationwide demonstrations to force President Peter Mutharika to fire minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Dr George Chaponda.

The CSOs also want the government to discipline other government officials implicated in the Zambia maize procurement scandal, according to a local newspaper.

The presidential commission of inquiry report and the parliamentary inquiry report have separately asked the graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau to probe Chaponda.

Centre for Development of People executive director Gift Trapence said CSOs are worried about the manner in which Mutharika is handling the issue.

He said failure by Mutharika to fire the embattled minister is an indication that the president “wants his allies to be above the law.”

The Nation newspaper, which has of late taken a pro-government stance, says in its editorial comment the civil society’s plans to stage countrywide protests against delays to sack Chaponda sum up a story of thickening indifference in high places.

“Concerned Malawians have every right to demonstrate against impunity, corrupt tendencies and detestable sluggishness in government agencies,” says the comment.

It goes on to say that some demonstrations have led to havoc, some demonstrations have wreaked as people go marching to vent their anger and frustrations.

The comment says while presumption of innocence is the hallmark of rule of law, the presidentr must put cronyism aside and use his discretion to save the country from the cusp of chaos.

It says the seemingly endless foot dragging in the face of calls for Chaponda to step down and pave the way for further investigaation into “corrupt practices” cited by Mutharika’s Commission of Inquiry does not speak well of the president’s war on fraud and the national quest for integrity.

The Nation newspaper says the findings by the commission and parliament have left the minister too compromised to be an effective leader both in parliament and cabinet.

The newspaper therefore says the looming protests could be a wake up call and a belated chance for the president to demonstrate that he has a spine to ensure no member of his inner circle is above the law.

“Mutharika needs to grab this lifeline, set the tone for his fight against fraud and silence his doubters who perceive him as inadvertently unresponsive or deliberately toothless” says the comment.

In conclusion, the comment says withdrawing Chaponda from cabinet will not be a mark of weakness, but a sign of a statesman who owes his days in power to the strength of the support he enjoys among the masses.