Malawi is on a crisis, press reports indicate starvation across the nation is “getting worse” by the day and fast reaching “degrading levels” as The Nation daily newspaper on Monday published a photo of multitude of people at Catholic University in Nguludi, queuing for a five-litre bucket of maize husks (madeya) that some ‘azungus’ were distributing to people from communities surrounding the university.
Malawi is currently experiencing maize shortage and the food shortage situation is worsening as people are being forced to spend nights at Admarc depots just to access the grain.
The paper quotes Mayi Ndodo of Kwinjiwa Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kadewere in Chiradzulu, a mother of four, who said she has been going to the university hoping to get the suddenly all-important bucket of maize husks to process into ‘flour’ and feed her children, but each time she has returned empty-handed, having been elbowed out by stronger people.
In Thyolo, Senior Resident Magistrates Court on Friday convicted and ordered a 35-year-old man, Steven Mahaya to pay a fine of K40, 000 or in default serve nine months jail term for buying maize from Admarc depot in bulks against the official set quantity of a minimum of 20kgs per individual.
The maize shortage situation has forced government to take restrict measures on how the maize is sold in Admarc depots and has since deployed police officers in all depots to monitor and manage the situation.
Mahaya was arrested on Wednesday together with Jeffrey Maliyango, 22, in Mulanje district after being found with seven bags of maize weighing 60kgs each believed to have been bought from
government-owned grain marketer depot in the district.
According to police, the two hired some women to buy maize for them at Mulanje Admarc depot. They were paying each woman K800 for every 20kgs bought. Officially 20kgs costs K2, 200. Law-enforcers arrested them after noting the malpractice.
And on Friday Thyolo Senior Resident Magistrate (SRM) Court convicted Mahaya after pleading guilty to Possession of Property Unlawfully Obtained contrary to Section 329 of the Penal Code.
The court ordered him to pay a fine of K40, 000 or in default serve nine months in jail term. He has since paid the fine and meanwhile the maize has been forfeited to government.
Mahaya, in mitigation, asked the court to be lenient as he was a bread winner for his family.
But the court noted that Mahaya’s conduct was uncalled for as it deprived others an opportunity to have food.
At least 2.8 million Malawians face hunger this year
Elsewhere, communities in Blantyre will have their finger dipped in ink before buying maize at ADMARC selling points in a bid to trace unscrupulous vendors.
The vendors are allegedly dominating the purchasing of the commodity leaving the destitute in hunger and they in turn sell the cereal at higher prices at markets in the country.
Chairperson of the Blantyre District Council, Councillor Thomas Kaumba said the idea came about after consultations with Village Development Committees (VDCs) and Area Development Committees (ADCs) as a pilot phase in Manyowe Ward where he represents at council level.
A 62 year old woman, Rosebay Mulenga hailed the government for bringing ADMARC maize selling point in the area saying people now will buy the maize within their area.—Additional reporting by Green Muheya, Nyasa TimesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :