The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is today set to file a notice of appeal against the Zomba Magistrate Court’s verdict to acquit former Cabinet minister George Chaponda in his corruption-related case regarding the Zambia maize purchase in 2016.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba and lead State counsel Macmillan Chakhala confirmed in separate interviews yesterday saying the notice would be filed at the Zomba High Court criminal registry.
Matemba said yesterday ACB had resolved to appeal against the two counts because they were not satisfied with the way the magistrate handled the two counts of giving false information to ACB and possession of foreign currency.
“We feel the magistrate erred in law in his interpretation of the two counts,” he said.
Initially, Chakhala, an ACB principal prosecution officer, was set to file the notice yesterday but failed due to undisclosed technical issues.
The appeal comes two weeks after ACB hinted it would appeal against the decision of Zomba chief resident magistrate (CRM) Paul Chiotcha to dismiss two of Chaponda’s three counts.
Chaponda was answering three charges of giving false information to ACB, possession of foreign currency and attempting to obtain an advantage by instructing former Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe to offer a contract to Transglobe Produce Export Limited.
But on May 18 2018 Chiotcha quashed all the evidence presented by the graft-busting body on behalf of the State in support of the counts arguing they lacked elements of corruption.
But Chaponda’s lawyer, Tamando Chokhotho in an interview yesterday said although he was yet to be served with the notice, they were ready to meet ACB at any court.
He said: “Although we did not expect it, we are ready to meet ACB at any court because we don’t expect any different outcome from the one delivered by the magistrate court.”
During a media briefing in Lilongwe two weeks ago, Matemba said under the Corrupt Practices Act, the law allows the bureau to investigate and prosecute any other offence its officers come across in the course of investigating a suspected corrupt practice.
The ACB head further said by ruling that Chaponda had no case to answer in the two counts, the court had put the bureau in an awkward situation on how to deal with other offences it comes across in the course of investigating other crimes.
Chaponda, who is also the governing Democratic Progressive Party vice-president (South) and Mulanje South West legislator was arrested on July 19 2017, five months after President Peter Mutharika fired him from Cabinet due to public pressure.