The High Court in Zomba has adjourned to a later date a case in which the graft-bursting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau is appealing against the lower court’s ruling in the infamous Zambia maize procurement scandal dubbed ‘Maizegate.’
On May 18, 2018, the Chief Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotha found former Agriculture Minister Dr. George Chaponda not guilty on all charges which were levelled against him which included giving force information.
During the hearing on Thursday, presiding Judge, Dr. Redson Kapindu noted that the state, filed its appeal after the legally given time which is 10 days from the judgment.
However Defense lawyer, Tamando Tchokhotho raised objections to the hearing of the appeal describing it as “illegular.”
“We have raised objections to the hearing of the appeal reason being that when we were finally served with the notice of appeal in December we noted that it had been filed out of time and the state had not made any application for extension of time,” Tchokhotho told journalists after the hearing.
He said according to the law, the high court is not supposed to entertain the appeal by the state.
“According to what the law is saying, in the circumstances of this matter there is no appeal,” he said.
But state lawyer Mac Millan Chakhala said they were advised by the lower court to make an appeal within 30 days which they did but they will wait for the court’s ruling on the filing of the appeal.
Chaponda is accused of illegal actions in the procurement of 100,000 tons of maize from Zambia by Malawi’s grain marketer, the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC).
ADMARC reportedly bought maize at U.S.$34,5 million from a Zambian company instead of buying it at U.S.$21.5 million directly from the Zambian government.
In February 2017, President Mutharika fired Chaponda after investigators found nearly $200,000 in cash in the minister’s home.