Malawi Agriculture Ministry Gutted by Fire
The office of the Minister of Agriculture, which is at the Centre of the ‘Maize-gate Scandal’ involving the governments of Zambia and Malawi, caught fire earlier today. It is feared that many documents relating to the scandal may have been destroyed in the process.
FIRE gutted the offices of the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation & Water Development, Dr. George Chaponda, and his Principal Secretary (PS), Erica Maganga, at Capital Hill Tuesday morning destroying everything in its wake.
The fire also razed down and destroyed office property in the adjacent rooms in the red carpet wing of the building before it was put under control by fire fighters from the Lilongwe City Council (LCC) and the Malawi Defence Force.
The cause of the fire was not known but employees who work in the same wing told Mana that they suspected that it was caused by lightning that struck at around eleven O’clock in the morning.
“There was lightning and thunder then immediately after that we heard a loud sound like that of a sparking wire before we saw smoke billowing from the Minister’s office,” explained one of the employees Mana interviewed at the scene.
According to the eye witnesses, by the time the (LCC) fire fighters arrived at the scene the fire had gained momentum but they put up a good job until they were later joined by their fellow fighters from the MDF.
At one time before the LCC and the MDF fire fighters came in, the LCC fire fighting vehicle got stuck in the swampy lawn as it tried to maneuver to the other side of the building where the fire was still raging and it took the help of the blue police riot armoured vehicle to pull it out.
Inspector General (IG) of Police, Lexten Kachama, and some senior police officers witnessed the incident throughout and the IG expressed his concern over the fire.
“This is very saddening considering how much has been damaged in this fire,” Kachama told journalists. He went on: “We are yet to establish the cause of the fire but I’m very thankful to the Lilongwe City Council, and General Supuni of the MDF for mobilizing support in time.”
Other cabinet ministers among them, Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Grace Chiumia, and other government officials also came to witness the scene.
It is yet to be established how much property has been consumed in the fire and what really caused it.
Meanwhile the Government Spokesperson who is also minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi has called for people to avoid speculation on possible causes of the fire while we wait for results of investigations by professionals.