Court convicts two principal secretaries

The High Court in Lilongwe has convicted two principal secretaries of contempt of court as the sale of tractors bought using a $50 million (about K37 billion) loan continues to haunt government.

Judge Charles Mkandawire has found Secretary to Treasury Cliff Chiunda and Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture Grey Nyandule-Phiri guilty of contempt of court.

The judge will deliver judgement on the case on Monday, August 5.

In February this year, the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the two public officers to issue a public apology in 21 days after a report titled “The Present Toiling, The Future Overburdened” released in 2016 by the Ombudsman faulted the entire process of procurement and subsequent disposal of the 177 tractors and other farm equipment as both illegal and irregular.

However, the principal secretaries did not comply with the ruling with the Ministry of Agriculture only issuing an apology on 9th July, 2019.

After the two principal secretaries were found guilty, Ombudsman Martha Chizuma said: “Ignoring the Ombudsman is unconstitutional, but it is even dangerous to ignore the highest court of the land that directed full compliance of Ombudsman directives.”

The Ombudsman’s report also recommended prosecution of the members of the internal procurement committee (IPC) and all people who presided over the sale of the farm machinery and benefited from the sale should be prosecuted in accordance with the Procurement Act.

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