The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday arrested two chiefs and three other individuals in Mponela, Dowa for abuse of office and being found in possession of other people’s national identity cards (IDs).
The arrests are in relation to the sale of fertiliser in the on-going controversial Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
In a statement issued yesterday, ACB principal public relations officer Egrita Ndala identified the five as Julius Chibwe (group village head Mtepatepa), Chinsewu Mandalasi (village head Mtepatepa), Gladys MacDonald, Edita Sadya and Osward Kalimbakatha.
The suspects, who hail from Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponela in the district, were apprehended as officers from the graft-busting body were monitoring AIP sales at Mponela Trading Centre.
Ndala said the officers observed that some people were trying to buy inputs using IDs, which were not theirs.
“It was also learnt that the two chiefs had taken other people’s IDs and redeemed the inputs,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Ndala said the five were taken to Mponela Police Station where they were granted police bail because the bureau would want to conclude investigations before taking them to court.
During the weekly ‘Face the press’ briefing in Lilongwe yesterday, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako cautioned Malawians against abusing the programme, warning that the long arm of the law will catch up with them.
The arrest of the five comes three weeks after agriculture authorities busted a syndicate of chiefs and vendors who were collecting cash from beneficiaries for them to buy fertiliser at Goliati selling point in Thyolo.
During the incident, Village Head Naphiyo 2 was forced to return about K200 000, which he allegedly solicited from beneficiaries.
Agricultural economists and other commentators have described the 2022/23 AIP as the worst, adding that it will not achieve its objective of improving food security and reducing poverty.
Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa yesterday also added his voice through a press statement describing the 2022/23 AIP as the worst ever