The four government agencies and ministries that have so far appeared before the Agriculture Committee of Parliament that is probing the maize procurement matter together with the Public Accounts Committee, have so far failed to establish corruption element as ithas been widely alleged in the media.
Following the testimony that was first tendered by some members of the civil society, the committee first summoned Director of Public Procurement, Paul Taulo, who had to school them regarding government procurement processes.
After failing to pin down the Director of Public Procurement on substance, the most vocal member of the committee Kamlepo Kalua,went superficial and accused Taulo of being casual in his responses. Kalua is known for throwing issues in the air without grounding them with evidence.
The visibly upset Kalua thundered at Taulo, “You are under oath! You are under oath!” as he forced the Director of Public Procurement to contradict his version.
But some commentators have described such an attack as a sign of loss of the argument and a vain attempt to force the official to accept things that are not true.
As it was very clear that there is no evidence of any corruption in the procurement process, the MPs started picking on minute issues like the dates when some documents were signed.
However, Taulo outsmarted them when he made it clear that at the time the decision of procuring maize from Zambia was being made, there was urgent need that the commodity should be in the country.
“That is why as a public office we had to come in and assess the situation and make sure ADMARC procured the maize as soon as possible. This does not mean any procurement procedure was flouted. We only had to hurry the process and this is normal in situations where there is urgent need for action,” said Taulo.
When ADMARC Chief Executive Officer Foster Mulumbe appeared before the same joint committee, the MPs also failed to find faults in his testimony and resorted to threatening him with unspecified action if he exposed their failure.
Kalua resorted to some threats like Mulumbe being in contempt of court when he said he would try to visit areas where the MPs claimed maize was being repacked.
However, Mulumbe wondered why the threat of contempt of court was coming up when he has never been served with any court document that he should not undertake his duties.
It later emerged that the threat was being applied to discourage Mulumbe from going further with the assignment since the MPs were lying that the maize was repacked somewhere. They simply wanted to get information using illegal means.
The Malawi Revenue Authority commissioner general, Thom Malata, also told the MPs when he appeared before them that as far as MRA is concerned, there was no any suspicious thing in the procurement.
“ADMARC declared that it would be procuring 100,000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia and we had to just wait and get our share which is the tax. So far, no money has been paid because only 4210 metric tonnes have come through our system,” said Malata.
His calm and composed presentation also compelled chairperson of the committee, Joseph Malunga, to indicate that the MPs were satisfied with his testimony.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that there are divisions in the joint committee as some members feel the enquiry is just a waste of time since already there is nothing like corruption element being traced in the transaction.
One member of the committee said others feel that everything must just be stopped because the key people whose testimonies should have pointed to corruption have come out of the inquiry clean.
“Looking at the testimonies, it is clear that no corruption was here. After all we have learnt that no money was paid, and how do you say there was corruption where money did not exchange hands. We will be meeting to see if we can just stop this,” said member who chose not to be identified.
Another member said the some members like Kamlepo Kalua and Dowa East MP Richard Chimwendo Banda want to continue with the probe though they clearly know that no corruption can be traced in the transaction.
The proponents of the maize corruption claims have tried to discredit President PPeter Mutharika’s Commission of Inquiry and demonizing the civil rights activist John Kapito for declaring that “no money was stolen” in a bid to block truth coming out into the public sphere.
Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :