President Peter Mutharika’s inaction following the release of findings on the maizegate scandal will dent his reputation, a political analyst has observed.
Mutharika on Friday – a day before receiving a report from a commission of inquiry he set up to probe the procurement process of maize from Zambia – made mention he felt the process of procuring maize was clean.
The president made the remarks during a groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion and rehabilitation of Kamuzu International Airport in the outskirts of the capital Lilongwe on Friday.
He said the inquiry which he instituted together with the other one which the parliamentary committee undertook was a waste of time and resources as there was no corruption in the maize deal.
But the report by the commission of inquiry among other notable things asks the Mutharika led government to institute a probe into Minister of Agriculture Dr. George Chaponda whose dealings the inquiry dubs as ‘suspicious’.
The inquiry notes that the Minister had at some point operated in his personal capacity in several instances which collided with decisions made by Admarc as regards to the purchase of maize from Zambia.
It also says Chaponda had dealings with Transglobe at several meetings from which the commission says foul play cannot be ruled out.
But the remarks made by Mutharika are a sign the president is not ready to probe Chaponda, argues political scientist Wonderful Mkhutche.
‘’The Maizegate issue is political, and it involves one of the most trusted and loyal DPP member, Dr. George Chaponda. Bearing this in mind, the President did not institute the commission of inquiry out of personal conviction that the issue must be dealt with. He cannot betray Dr, Chaponda. The inquiry was done out of pressure and in order for the president to save his face. He failed to balance what needs to be done and protecting a party member,” Mkhutche said in an interview with Malawi24 on Monday.
According to Mkhutche, by calling the inquiry a wastage of resources, the president contradicts the idea of having it in the first place. It simply tells that the actions to follow will not be based on its findings, but on other political calculations and loyalties.
When asked what it would mean if the president does not make it up on the recommendations the report suggested, Mkhutche says Mutharika’s reputation could be dented arguing he needs to suspend or fire Chaponda.
In a separate interview political analyst Laudon Malingamoyo Phiri argued that Mutharika’s remarks could entail he deliberately chose to waste taxpayers’ money because it is his office that instituted the commission in the first place.
‘’He (Mutharika) is putting him in the same shoes because he chose the commission,’’ he said in an interview with this reporter.
Malingamoyo Phiri said the only way the president may not be feared to be part of the deals is to give a nod to investigate Chaponda.
“There was a foul play in the whole transaction. Surely, the best the president would do is to let justice take its course if he were serious about ridding the country of corruption and thievery. The best thing the minister would do was to resign and rebuild confidence of Malawians. One of the challenges we have with many politicians in the Republic is they don’t want to accept their weaknesses,” said Phiri.
This comes hot on the heels of calls made for Mutharika to fire or suspend the minister who has since claimed he was only involved in the policy guidelines part of the deals.
The deal involved up to K26 billion which Admarc admitted weeks ago to have borrowed from the PTA bank.