Malawi’s two main opposition political parties Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Peoples Party (PP) have on Saturday rubbished the recent President Peter Mutharika’s remarks of waiting for concrete evidence to suspend or fire Agriculture Minister Dr George Chaponda and ADMARC boss Foster Mulumbe over the Zambia maize-gate scandal calling Mutharika’s move as a veiled act intended to shield the suspects.
On Friday during the swearing in of some government senior officials and maize-gate commissioners, Mutharika said he will not act on the maize-gate suspects without concrete evidence.
“As the country’s President, I am not allowed to act on speculation alone but act based on concrete evidence,” said Mutharika.
He then asked Malawians to be calm until 31 January, 2017 when the commissioners will bring their findings.
However, opposition parties including the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and former ruling Peoples Party (PP) said Mutharika’s remarks openly shows that he is shielding the suspects.
PP spokesperson Nowell Chimpeni expressed worry if the established commission will yield any tangible fruits.
“Some of the commissioners are civil servants, and one wonders if these people can be objective enough as to be able to investigate without fear or favor a Minister or their fellow senior civil servants?,” wondered Mulumbe.
Mulumbe added: “We always hear some of the suspects distancing themselves from the allegation in the media despite the matter being under investigation. In other words, they are indirectly telling the commission that they are innocent and should not waste their time.”
In her remarks, Jessie Kabwira from the main opposition MCP reminded President Mutharika that suspending the maize-gate suspects does mean that they will not return back to their respective works but just temporary to pave way for the investigation.
“It just the same as not establishing the commission of inquiry because the investigation will not be conducted fairly,” said Kabwira.
Some 18 Civil Society Organizations in the country also penned President Mutharika to suspend Chaponda and Mulumbe in order to let the commissioners conduct their investigation in free and fair manner.
The CSOs further demanded for the inclusiveness in the commission while asking the ADMARC boss to vacate the court injunction he took against the Times Group media house restricting it from carrying maize-gate stories.
Leader for the commission former Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa asked Malawians to trust them.
Chaponda however vehemently refuses to step down insisting that he is innocent.