Two lawyers representing sacked Agriculture minister George Chaponda yesterday dumped the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice president for the South, further weakening his defence in a case in which the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is accusing him of corruption
The two; Madalitso Mmeta and Jai Banda, follow Frank Mbeta, who also ceased to represent Chaponda some two months ago. The decision by the three lawyers leaves Chaponda with only one lawyer representing him, Tamando Chokhotho.
“I felt there would be conflict of interest. Tayub wants a separate trial so it was going to be hard for me to represent both of them when Tayub wants separate trial,” Banda said, justifying his decision to quit the defence team. The ACB case is a make or break for the DPP political heavyweight, who has made his presidential ambitions known.
Tayub is facing a charge of persuading a public officer to perform his functions corruptly. However, Admarc in testimonies in court, are on record to have said Tayub did not sign any contract with Admarc to supply the maize.
Chaponda is being accused of giving false information to the ACB, possession of foreign currency in Malawi and attempt to obtain an advantage.
In a related development, Lusungu Gondwe, lawyer for Chaponda’s co-accused Rashid Tayub, one of the directors at Transglobe Produce Exports, also asked the court to have a separate trial from Chaponda.
Madalo Banda, one of the lawyers representing Tayub, said they want a separate trial for their client because they want a speedy trial.
“Our client has the right to justice and he has the right to be tried fairly and in a speedy manner. That is why we filled the application for a separate trial,” she said.
But the ACB lead Prosecutor Macmillan Chakhala said they will oppose the application to have the cases tried separately.
“As the state, we are prepared to oppose the application because we are of the view that facts in this case, between the 1st and 2nd accused, are connected.
Therefore; we are ready to oppose the application,” Chakhala said in an interview outside the court.
Meanwhile, ACB has filed an application to have the matter adjourned until a judicial review on the committal of the case to the High Court is reviewed.
Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza has adjourned the case to a later date as he was not able to make a decision on both applications since the matter was committed to the High Court.