Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development suspect that media reports on the rot in the transactions of maize purchase from Zambia has characteristics of ‘Cashgate’ corruption scandal and have demanded an investigations into the procurement process.
Nyasa Times and Daily Times have reported in the recent days about the rot over the procurement of imported maize from Zambia.
And the members of parliament under the agriculture committee want an inquiry on the contractual issues involving the state-grain marketer ADMARC and Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF), a government agency.
On Tuesday December 20 Nyasa Times published a story which said Zambian opposition leader has raised suspicion over transactions between ADMARC and a private firm involving Zambia maize exports to Malawi, alleging there was some racketeering by some top Zambian government officials.
But ADMARC CEO Foster Mulumbe came fighting that they were buying maize from ZCF.
“We have a contract with ZCF,” said Mulumbu,
However, documents seen by Nyasa Times shows a contract which Mulumbe signed alongside CEO of Kaloswe, Isaac Kapambwe dated June 17, 2016.
Malawi government obtained a loan of K26 billion from the Eastern and Southern African Development Bank (PTA Bank) to purchase 100, 000 metric tonnes of maize from government of Zambia through ZCF. Consequently, the maize price was hiked from around K5000 to K12 500 per 50 kg bag to enable Admarc repay the loan.
Chairman of the Commiteee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development of Malawi Parliament, Joseph Chidanti –Malunga said they will institute an inquiry into the maize purchase transactions.
“The inquiry would establish what exactly went wrong, why are there delays in the purchases and it is possible they are saying they bought this much when they didn’t but the said quantity,” said Malunga.
Malunga said they will quiz Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda on the maize deal and use of a private company as a broker in Zambia.
“We are interested to question the Minister of Agriculture. We need to know why government used a private company and yet they told the nation that they were dealing with Zambia government,” said Malunga.
He said Malawians should know the real truth about the maize transactions.
Chaponda could not immediately comment .
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation ( CHRR) also feels there is something fishy in the transactions.
It says the move by government is” a huge betrayal” to the citizens, especially considering that the price of K12 500 for 50 kg bag of maize is way too high for the ordinary Malawians.
CHRR, therefore, calls upon government to consider adjusting downwards the maize price to meet the affordability for most Malawians.
It also support calls to institute investigations into reports of corruption in the purchase of maize from Zambia.
But consumer and rights activist John Kapito want an independent agency to carry out the probe to clarify matters such as a third party private firm brokering the deal, at what cost, quanity purchased and brought into the country.
He said the inqury should have a time frame to have the matter to its logical conclusion so that Malawians should know the truth regarding the maize purchase.
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