Ombudsman testifies against two Principal Secretaries

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma on Monday testified against two Principal Secretaries in a case in which the Office of the Ombudsman wants the two to be convicted for delayed apology.

The two are Secretary to Treasury Cliff Chiunda and Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture Grey Nyandule Phiri.

Martha Chizuma

Last year, the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the two public officers to issue a public apology in 60 days after a report by the Ombudsman faulted the entire process of procurement of 177 tractors which were bought using a US$50 million loan from India for use by smallholders farmers but were later illegally sold.

The two principal secretaries issued their public apology outside the period ordered by the court forcing Chizuma’s office to take them to court saying they undermined the Supreme Court of Appeal.

But Phiri and Chiunda saypublication of their apology was delayed because of technical issues.

At the High Court in Lilongwe on Monday, Chizuma was cross-examined by lawyer representing the two principal secretaries while Chiunda and Nyandule Phiri were asked questions by legal team for the Ombudsman.

Meanwhile, the judge has reserved his ruling for a later date to be announced.

In 2016, the Ombudsman released a report titled “The Present Toiling, The Future Overburdened” which faulted the entire process of procurement and subsequent disposal of the 177 tractors and other farm equipment as both illegal and irregular.

The Ombudsman’s report 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.

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