The Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) is alleging that ruling Peoples Party officials are owing government in excess of MK350 million for timber plundered from the Viphya Plantation at Chikangawa in Mzimba District.
CAMA notes that the debt dates back 18 months ago shortly after the PP assumed the reigns of power.
The consumer body is now demanding that government probe PP officials and all other suspicious agents of corruption so that they face the law.
The Plantation’s 53-501 hectare man-made plantation, the largest in Southern Africa, began in the 1950s in an attempt to render Malawi self-sufficient in construction timber.
These days, Viphya stands at 10% plantation cover and dwindling.
CAMA’s Northern Region Coordinator Isaac Gondwe flanked by Research and Documentation officer Charles Kajoloweka and Advocacy officer Andrew Longwe made the accusations against PP bigwigs at a news conference held at Mzuzu youth Centre on Thursday.
“At the moment we are not in a position to name them because we compiling a comprehensive list,” Kajoloweka said.
However, in statement made available to the media, CAMA singled out Minister of Environment and Climate Change Management Halima Daud for allegedly on several occasions instructed Viphya Plantation management to allocate vast portions of ‘ready to harvest timber’ to PP cronies, proxies or business agents.
Daud could not be reached for comment despite several attempts.
Timber Millers Cooperatives Union, an umbrella union of eight registered timber millers namely Chamatete, Lusangazi, Chibwaka, Zikomo, Viphya, Luwawa and Kalungulu is the sole entity the Malawi government has allowed to harvest Timber in the Viphya Plantations in Mzimba district.
Former Viphya Plantation Manager Eric Zangazanga (transferred to Zomba in December 2013) said it was difficult for him to comment.
“That’s very unfortunate,” he said.
Nonetheless, PP acting Secretary General Paul Maulidi first laughed off the matter saying CAMA should not be in the habit of politicising everything.
“Are they telling the nation that if people belong or support a ruling party then they should not do business? What I know is that people there (in the Plantation) followed procedures. What’s wrong with that?” he queried.
CAMA said the current situation in the Plantation is recipe for economic doom as Malawi will be forced to import timer in next 10 years thereby increasing the burden on the already heavily taxed consumers.
“We express our deepest concern over blatant abuse of the Viphya Plantation by PP. We also condemn all deep rooted and growing corruption by PP officials… thereby deepening the ill-state of maladministration of this public asset,” said.
It noted that the PP administration has followed the same caustic path the former ruling Democratic progressive Party (DPP) did in grimly abusing the plantation through its agents.
“Despite the growing corruption… there continues to be lack of political will to address the situation that the country’s top leadership has full knowledge of this politically organised crime.
“Similarly, the country’s graft busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau continues to abdicate its mandate… when dealing with ruling PP officials,” it said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :