Malawi ministers to testify against cabinet colleague in maize graft trial

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 18, 2017 10:29 AM

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Three Malawian ministers will testify in court against a former cabinet colleague charged with abuse of office over a maize procurement contract, court documents showed.

President Peter Mutharika launched an investigation in January into the government order for 100,000 tonnes of Zambian white maize, after an opposition leader there said he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per ton instead of the $215 the consignment was worth.

Then agriculture minister George Chaponda was arrested in July, sacked and charged with abuse of office and possession of foreign currency without lawful justification.

He pleaded not guilty to both charges and was released on bail pending trial, for which no date has yet been set.

Malawi was importing maize to ease food shortages triggered by a severe drought that swept the region in 2016.

According to court documents seen by Reuters, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, Information Nicoluas Dausi and Trade and Industry Minister Henry Mussa will be called to give evidence against Chaponda.

The three ministers, who declined to comment, are expected to testify late this month, local newspapers said.

Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau also declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

(Reporting by Mabvuto Banda; editing by John Stonestreet)