Some concerned members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have joined Malawians in pushing for the immediate firing of the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Dr. George Chaponda over his involvement in the maize-gate scandal.
In a letter dated February 20, 2017 addressed to President Mutharika, the concerned DPP members have demanded an immediate action on the matter, saying silence is not helping matters.
“Your Excellency, we know Honorable Chaponda as a good man of high integrity and we seriously consider him innocent until he is proven guilty by a competent court. But our petition for your action follows the fact that you established a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the matter with the promise that you will take action on the findings and recommendations of the report and we want the nation to know you, just like we do, that your word can be trusted which is very good for leadership. Another reason is that people of Malawi who voted you into office are crying for you to take action because the issue is of public interest. We also seriously consider, Your Excellency, that DPP stands against corruption and your inaction or delay of action, might be misunderstood as tolerance towards corruption.
“Your Excellency, as you are aware, DPP has strong pillars and values which include INTEGRITY, and it is our strong belief that since the people of Malawi whom we seek to serve have questioned the integrity of one of ours, Honourable Chaponda, it is important to take action to show Malawians that DPP means it when we talk about integrity,” reads in part the letter.
Below is the letter:
TO: HIS EXELLENCY, ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI
FROM: CONCERNED MEMBERS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY (DPP)
DATE: FEBRUARY 20, 2017
SUBJECT: PETITION FOR FORCED RESIGNATION OR DISMISAL OF HON. GEORGE CHAPONDA, MP. FROM HIS MINISTERIAL POSITION
Your Excellency, allow us the concerned members of DPP to first of all congratulate you, and our entire mighty Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for 33 months of a nation excellently governed in the presence of insufficient resources, zero aid, natural disasters, political sabotage, envy, hatred and similar chronic evils affecting our nation. Under your leadership, Malawi has made positive strides towards among many others aspects, the realization of economic and infrastructure development, food security, public sector reforms, disaster management, power and water generation, fiscal discipline, regaining donor confidence, rule of law, and zero tolerance against corruption. We thank you for making us proud.
Your Excellency, we are the concerned members of our mighty Party who are neither strangers to you nor unfamiliar with our Party. Our loyalty and love for you, our Party and our nation has been steadfast. We have stood by your side and fought with you through the toughest of times and not for once have we abandoned our great Party even as many defected and left us to burry our founder and President, Bingu wa Mutharika in 2012, neither did we abandon you at the Convention in 2013, and we did not even leave you alone on the path to jail and courts in 2013. And we want you to understand, that it is this love and faithfulness that we have for you and our mighty Party that we humbly petition you today, to take timely action on the alleged corruption and abuse of public office by the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Honorable George Chaponda,MP.
2. GROUNDS FOR ACTION
Your Excellency, as members of DPP, we appreciate very much the distinguished and unequaled effort and service that Honorable Chaponda has rendered to our Party and country even in the darkest of times of our Party. He is a great man and source of inspiration and mentorship to our youths and contemporary politicians within and outside our Party as well. His love and loyalty to our Party has been and remains the same as ours and we do not consider ourselves to be more DPP than him, neither do we love him less than any senior member of our Party.
However, Your Excellency, the allegations of corruption and abuse of public office leveled against our beloved Chaponda, and recommendations that the Police and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) must investigate him further, follows two credible Commission of Inquiry reports established by yourself, Your Excellency, and the legislature on January 1, 2017 and January 9, 2017 respectively.
Your Excellency, we know Honorable Chaponda as a good man of high integrity and we seriously consider him innocent until he is proven guilty by a competent court. But our petition for your action follows the fact that you established a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the matter with the promise that you will take action on the findings and recommendations of the report and we want the nation to know you, just like we do, that your word can be trusted which is very good for leadership. Another reason is that people of Malawi who voted you into office are crying for you to take action because the issue is of public interest. We also seriously consider, Your Excellency, that DPP stands against corruption and your inaction or delay of action, might be misunderstood as tolerance towards corruption.
Your Excellency, as you are aware, DPP has strong pillars and values which include INTEGRITY, and it is our strong belief that since the people of Malawi whom we seek to serve have questioned the integrity of one of ours, Honourable Chaponda, it is important to take action to show Malawians that DPP means it when we talk about integrity.
3. OUR SUPPORTED ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION
Your Excellency, it is with burdened hearts and sincere regret that we join those within the Party, and the General Public and other stakeholders, to petition you to take action against our Honourable Chaponda, because as a Party we have a reputation to save, people to serve and government to run. We need to build trust with the people and we need less baggage to weigh us down and no ugly skeletons in our closet to decamping us on the road to 2019 which is already getting too bumpy. We therefore, after our caucus as concerned members of DPP, petition you, Your Excellency, to force Honourable Chaponda to resign or dismiss him.
2.1 FORCED RESIGNATION
Your Excellency, we do not expect Honourable Chaponda to resign voluntarily because he does not see any reason to do so which we understand very well, and we do not expect him to see a good reason to step down anytime soon or later. But we have faith in your leadership that you have leverage enough to convince Honourable Chaponda to resign against his will. One way would be to come to an understanding with him, that he must despite being forced to resign, issue a public statement stating that he has resigned on his own to pave way for investigations which he has finally figured to be the morally right and a patriotic thing to do. He can emphasize in the statement that he is innocent, and he has served his ministry well, and the investigations shall vindicate him. Such a gesture would regain sympathy for him, and allow him to exit with honour, if it can be properly executed. The main drawback with this alternative however, is that people will still question why you had failed to dismiss him to create room for investigation. Sympathy will go to him, but your leadership will be questioned and our opponents will build on that to have more ammunition to attack you, Your Excellency.
Your Excellency, it was our consensus however, that an outright dismissal would be the most effective and speedy of the two alternatives. The longer it takes to take action, the more room we create for conflict, the more the public loses trust in your leadership and our Party, and the more the issue is likely to get complicated, and might reach a level where any action taken later might not be effective enough to regain public trust. And the worst is that the longer you delay, the more the Opposition and our enemies score political points while we lose points on the road to 2019.
Upon dismissing him, you can issue a press statement through your spokesperson and inform the public that the reason you have dismissed Honourable Chaponda is to respect the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry which you, yourself had established. You could assure the public that you do not tolerate corruption and abuse of Office, and repeat that you promised never to spare even members of your own Cabinet. You could, nonetheless, speak well of Honourable Chaponda in the statement to ensure that as our loyal friend and senior member of our Party, he is relieved of his ministerial duties with his deserving respect and honour.
4. OUR JUSTIFICATION FOR FORCED RESIGNATION OR DISMISAL
Your Excellency, we understand that mere allegations of corruption and abuse of public office alone are not a strong reason in our country to force Honourable Chaponda or any minister to resign or get fired. We have other ministers for instance, Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa,MP whose wealth was recently questioned, allegations of possible corruption leveled against him and the ACB requested to investigate him. We have not petitioned you to force Nankhumwa to resign or get him dismissed. This might seem like selective persecution, conspiracy and hatred against Honourable Chaponda.
However, Your Excellency, we have highly significant reasons as concerned members of DPP to justify our petition for forced resignation and dismissal of Honourable Chaponda, without being selective or harboring thoughts of conspiracy or hatred against him. And the following are our some of our reasons which we beg you, Your Excellency, not to ignore:
3.1 LOSS OF PUBLIC TRUST AND SYMPATHY
Your Excellency, we, the concerned members of DPP, would like you to understand that unlike in other cases like that of Honourable Nankhumwa and other incidences before, it is highly imperative that you understand that it is the people of Malawi who are asking you, as their supreme representative authority, to fire Honourable Chaponda for them as they request him to resign. We as the concerned Members of DPP are only coming in to save our Party and our leadership, from a dangerous conflict with wishes of the majority of the public. A public official can only retain his public or political office upon the wishes of those people whose interests and aspirations he serves. The people in this case do not want Honourable Chaponda in their government, and we cannot force him on them, as they demand that he must be investigated. We appreciate that in a democracy the will of the people on whose behalf we govern must be respected, and a government that respects the will of the people on matters of public interest like this one, can guarantee itself to govern for a long time. And this is what we want to for our DPP. We want to go beyond 2019, and it very clear that listening to the people is the bridge we need to help cross over beyond 2019 and further.
3.2 THE WEAKEST LINK
Your Excellency, we know you are very familiar with the saying that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” The practical application here is that as a Party and government, each member of ours is a link that determines our strength and power, and we are only as strong as the weakest among us. In order to keep the chain strong and functional, the weakest link must be replaced with a strong link otherwise, that’s where the entire chain breaks and become nonfunctional.
Your Excellency, as it stands, our many enemies and opponents who fight us in many party colors and others that disguise themselves as Civil Society Organizations, media practitioners and even foreign agencies, have identified Honourable Chaponda as the weakest link in our administration. He has become an easy target to hit and he is affecting the whole functionality of our government and Party. It is of strategic importance now to replace the weakest link, Honourable Chaponda, because his weakness has become the weakness of our government, your leadership and our Party.
Your Excellency, we voted for you at the 2013 Convention to lead our Party and to make some decisions on our behalf because we trusted your judgment and ability to lead us. Over the years, our trust in your leadership and judgment has grown stronger, and you have made us proud. Please, understand that the reason for this petition is not to question your judgment and leadership over your inaction against Chaponda, rather, we are only trying to reach up to you and make our wishes known and our voices heard. Please hear us, for the sake of our government and Party.