President Peter Mutharika has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to the procurement of 100 000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize from Zambia involving K26 billion.
Announcing the Commisison, Chief Secretary to government, Lloyd Muhara, President Mutharika established the Inquiry in accordance with the Inquiries Act Section 2 (1) and the Constitution in Section 89 (1) (g).
Muhara said the inquiry will work on “matters surrounding the procurement of maize” by State-grain trader Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) from Zambia, Malawi’s western neighbour.
Retired chief justice Anastasia Msosa has been appointed to head the inquiry.
Other commissioners appointed include Isaac Kayira the public auditor, Dr Janet Banda the solicitor general and Mike Chinoko as secretary of the Commission.
The appointments are with effect from the 1st of January, 2017,” Muhara said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times on New Year’s Day.
According to Muhara, the Commission of Inquiry will start work “immediately.”
The Commission has been tasked to submit its report to the President by January 31, 2017.
The import deal – christened as ‘maizegate – has been subject of media frenzy in Malawi as leaked documents show that Admarc used a private Zambian company that may be more expensive than if the deal were government-to-government.
Admarc insists that it is buying the staple grain from Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF), a government agency.
According to figures seen in documents, Admarc has r paid $34.5 million (about K26 billion) for the maize, which is $13 million (about K9.5 billion) more than the $21.5 million (about K15 billion) it could have paid had it bought the maize from Zambian Government.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director General Lucas Kondowe has also disclosed that the bureau will work with the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia to analyse documents related to the deal to establish, if any, wrongdoing.
ACB has taken up the matter after members of Parliament (MPs) under the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security pushed bureau to launch an inquiry.
Meanwhile, Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament has urged President Mutharika to suspend Admarc Chief Executive Officer Foster Mulumbe and Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda to “create a conducive environment for investigations.”
PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said if the Commission of Inquiry and ACB work is to be credible, Mulumbe and Chaponda should be relieved of their duties.
“Here we have a whole Cabinet minister being implicated in the allegations, yet he still remains in his position. Here we have a whole CEO of Admarc being implicated yet still remains in his position,” said Menyani.
He said people implicated will do everything possible to defeat justice if they feel some underhand dealings in relation to the maize issue will be uncovered.
The procurement of the maize from Zambia was part of government’s response to the crisis.
Government borrowed $34 million (about K26 billion) from the PTA Bank for the purchase of the maize.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :