Renowned economist Henry Kachaje has asked President Peter Mutharika to set a commission of inquiry to probe reports that government obtained a K23 billion loan from India to buy tractors for smallholders farmers but were fraudlently sold off to influential Malawians including politicians.
Kachaje said this on Tuesday in Lilongwe during a debate on whether the Malawi economy can opt for the poor which was organised by Centre for Social Concern.
“We need to find out what parliament agreed on the loan, did government tell parliament that it would sell the tractors?” said Kachaje.
He said there was need to read the bill that authorised the purchase of the tractors to see if the minister of Finance told parliament that tractors would be sold.
Kachaje said reports indicate that out of the K23 billion loan that was obtained in 2011, only K600 million has been recovered with K131 million from the ‘hire a tractor scheme’ which was abruptly discontinued to pave way for the sale of the tractors.
“How did we handle the loan, what happened that we borrowed money to buy tractors and ended up in selling the tractors to few individuals,” said Kachaje.
The tractor scam happened when former president Bingu wa Mutharika was in office and some quarters of society say the deceased president benefitted from this scam now christened as ‘tractorgate.’
This matter was brought to the attention of Malawians by Rumphi east MP Kamlepo Kalua who asked the government in parliament to explain the whereabouts of the tractors, alleging the former head of state used his aide at State House to make the scam, an allegation flatly denied by minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza.
He read out the list of people who bought the tractors and the list included minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila, Speaker Richard Msowoya and the once blue eyed boy of late Mutharika, Leston Mulli.
Kachaje said Malawians, the tax payers who bought the tractors need to know the truth.