One of the lawyers representing former agriculture Minister George Chaponda, Frank Mbeta, Thursday discharged himself from the case in which the former minister is accused of corruption.
Mbeta asked to be discharged Thursday citing his busy schedule for his decision.
“I am too busy. I have a tight schedule at the High Court and I will not be able to effectively attend to his trial,” he said.
In a notice that was filed by Mbeta in court that The Daily Times has seen, Mbeta did not give any reasons for the decision.
Mbeta’s decision, however, has raised speculation. Some people close to the case said that Mbeta had disagreements with Chaponda while others speculated that Chaponda no longer wanted him on his team and asked him to excuse himself.
Chaponda and Rashid Tayub of Transglobe Exports Produce Limited are in court answering charges of graft. Tayub is accused of persuading a public officer to perform his functions corruptly while Chaponda is answering charges of giving false information to the Anti Corruption Bureau [ACB], attempt to obtain an advantage, and the final charge is possession of foreign currency in Malawi.
Yesterday, Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza ruled that the state should find a way of bringing other witnesses attending Parliament.
Earlier this week, the State had asked that the case be adjourned until the witnesses in the case who are attending Parliament are available, which the defence team protested.
“The state gave various reasons for not calling the rest of the witnesses. These reasons included; Honourable Goodall Gondwe, Honourable Henry Mussa, Honourable Nicholas Dausi are attending Parliament and therefore not available. There is no good reason why the state should only call two witnesses when the court allocated eight full days to this case,”the state said.
“I entirely agree with the defence, the state has to find ways to exhaust the days that have been seen for this case. As I said earlier on, I wanted the case to be tried in January and we had to cancel some of the things because the state indicated they were ready. If we adjourn the case, we may reach March to May. Therefore, I order the state to find a way that this case should continue,” Mdeza said.
Meanwhile the case has been adjourned to Tuesday next week.