The Joyce Banda administration has been aware of the maize situation in the Country for some time – evidenced by its announcement in early 2013 to procure maize from Zambia.
In late November or early December 2013 the government was reported in the national papers that, they will be funding Admarc to procure maize from January 2014.
The procurement, we are meant to understand has now shifted from Zambia to South Africa. This means that the overall costs of procuring and moving this grain from South Africa to Malawi would be far greater than if the government had moved in a timely fashion and tied the Zambian Government (or whoever was selling the grain) to the deal earlier. In my opinion this proves once again that, this government is inept at planning and, in general, managing the economy of our Nation.
In a well-managed government administration, time would have been on the essence in handling this matter. If arrangements were put in place at the outset – No difficulties could have been experienced as is the case presently.
Maize availability in this country is a question of national security and as such, it ought to be handled with the priority and care it deserves. Obviously this government had other important matters to worry about – probably! What that would be, well, I cannot think of anything at the moment! Your guess is as good as mine.
January, as we all know is not a month to buy maize; it’s a period people plant maize. Anyone with a serious business sense selling maize to Malawi during these lean months would charge a premium for their produce because they would know we a very desperate and sorry people apologies to fellow Malawians – I meant to say.…….sorry government!).
We are also aware that the month of January many trucks are already hired by government for the SGR/FISP program, this also means that the government might pay a premium to find trucks to move the maize from South Africa – Malawi does not have a very large fleet of trucks to deal with the program I have mentioned above; let alone, an extra program of lifting maize at the same time.
We also hear that Government procured maize in July/August 2013 through Admarc using the proceeds from the sale of the Presidential Jet. They (the Government) have also indicated that they set aside 2.5million US$ to purchase maize and that these funds are also a part of the proceeds from the sale of the
Presidential Jet. – Meanwhile, Madame President is hiring and flying around in a “Presidential” Jet which uncannily looks like the one her Government sold on her orders – Well, it does spot different colours of course!
As a matter of national interest, can government provide information on the following?
1. How much was the Presidential Jet sold for?
2. To whom was it sold?
3. How much of the proceeds have so far been used to buy maize?
4. How much is the balance now?
5. In which Government Vault are the funds deposited
Transparency is required on all these transactions and it is in the current government’s own interest that this is done.
It would also be important for the government to make public and show rotten maize from the National Grain Reserves next time it happens. Currently, we all have to take the governments word as fact. We were informed that the rotten maize would be sold as animal (chicken) feed but no one was told exactly how much tonnage actually got rotten.
During this period there were also lots of maize being distributed around the country by Peoples Party officials and supporters as “Presidential” maize – it was difficult not to question the source of this maize. I am sure the President will find it necessary to avoid people connecting the so called” rotten” maize to the “Presidential” maize.
The President, or indeed, any President for that matter, should always be beyond the pale! This is not finger-pointing; simply a kind request to the President to inform the Nation where (exactly) the Presidential maize came from – receipts, Bills of lading, Invoices etc.
The President should not doubt our resolve in going all the way to finding the truth about these matters in the interest of our Nation and all the long-suffering needy folk around the Country.
Malawians are simply asking their government to be transparent, lest we all start to believe there is something the government is hiding – and if so, why?
- The author is Right Honourable Davies Chester Katsonga, Interim Presaidednt for Chipani Cha Pfuko, Former Speaker of the Malawi National Assembly and Former Government Minister.