Police thwart maize smuggling by PP candidate

Police on Tuesday thwarted a smuggling syndicate of maize into Mozambique by ruling People’s Party (PP) candidate for Chikhwawa Mkombezi, Ben Montfort Khuleya.

Two trucks carrying over 30 metric tonnes of maize were impounded by police and Mulanje Muloza border enroute to Mozambique.

The maize is said to have been given by President Joyce Banda to PP parliamentary candidates and chiefs to distribute to those in need.

Receiving maize  from President Joyce Banda

Receiving maize from President Joyce Banda

Khuleya: Maize smuggling

Khuleya: Maize smuggling

However, of late many officials including chiefs have been selling the maize and not benefitting the intended beneficiaries.

Police in Mulanje confirmed the impounding of the trucks of maize which belonged to Khuleya.

“We have intercepted the maize which was being smuggled to Mozambique. The trucks are parked at Bangwe police in Blantyre as investigations are ongoing,” a police spokesman told Nyasa Times.

With the looming hunger, government slapped a ban on maize exportation.

The politicising of the distribution of food relief particularly maize to the poor and hungry has been widely condemned by human rights campaigners.

The state-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) observed in particular that, as the electoral calendar is drawing closer to the official campaign period, the People’s Party is heightening its efforts in distribution of maize through public rallies.

The Commission said of particular concern were the president’s rallies where President Banda invites ruling party shadow MPs to collect maize from the party for distribution and wondered how this was possible when maize was acutely scarce in the public service delivery points, specifically Admarc, and government reported to have lost massive amounts of maize in the nation’s silos.

“Currently, the situation has not improved significantly as most Admarc depots still have stock outs of the commodity. Therefore, the Peoples’ Party maize distribution programme raises pertinent questions as to the source of the maize being distributed through political rallies,” MHRC said in a statement recently.

“Further, the development raises questions as to the source of the funds that have gone towards the acquisition of the maize and where the maize was acquired from. In this regard, in line with the ethos of transparency and accountability on the part of public officials, the Commission recommends that the Peoples’ Party must declare to the public the source of the maize and the source of the funds that were used for acquisition of the maize.”

But Presidential Advisor on Communications and Politics Affairs Wakuda Kamanga insisted that government has been forthcoming with information on the sale of the jet but insisted only OPC can give details of the sale.

He also defended the president’s maize distribution saying the maize was being donated by several donors and from the president’s own pocket.

“She is purchasing that maize from commercial private agro-dealers such as Farmers World. When a donor comes as it happened last week with the foundation from the United Arab Emirates, the president says don’t give me money but buy the maize for the people. We should not be condemning her but applauding her. She has a good heart, she started preparing for this when she was Vice President,” said Kamanga.

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