State-produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe will not be suspended from his duties as government claims to have information and weight of evidence that he followed procedures with Government of Zambia and its agencies in the controversial K26 billion procurement deal of maize now christened as ‘Maizegate’.
The civil society organisations (CSOs) and two Parliamentary Committees—Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Public Accounts— have called for the resignation of Mulumbe and Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda, saying their continued stay in their positions would “jeopardise the investigations”.
Chaponda has refused to step down, saying he was not involved in the procurement and pushed the blame to Mulumbe and his management team.
“I have said now and again that Iam not involved in the actuak procurement of maize,” said Chaponda.
He said those pushing for his resignational are pursuing a vendetta against him.
Mulumbe has refused to comment, saying doing so would prejudice the matter which is now under investigations.
But documents of communication from his office show that Admarc made formal request to purchase 300, 000 metric tonnes from Zambia following a go ahead given by Capital Hill in Lilongwe.
On May 27, 2016 Mulumbe, wrote Zambia Food Reserve Agency (ZFRA) formally requesting the purchase of 300, 000 metric tonnes by the corporation.
In response, ZFRA told Admarc through communication dated June 11, 2016 that maize stocks of that tonnage was not available up until a reevaluation of stocks after General Elections in September same year.
On June 17, 2016 Admarc entered into a Maize Purchase and Sale contract with Zambia Cooperative Federation Limited (ZCFL) to purchase 100, 000 metric tonnes.
ZCFL is a Zambia government agency under Ministry of Trade. Currently, the company has already supplied 4,000 metric tonnes and is in the process of bringing in the remaining 96,000 metric tonnes in the coming months.
Apparetly, Admarc markets in the country are currently fully stocked with maize which was bought locally.
Meanwhile, all the 4000 tonnes which delivered ZCF has delivered so far is stocked in warehouse in Lilongwe, according to our findings.
In the absence of 300,000 metric tonnes Admarc continued looking for other suppliers in Zambia. That’s when they got a recommendation from Zambia government to speak to private suppliers.
Private trader Kaloswe reportedly told Admarc that his company was only one allowed to do export maize outside Zambia borders, a fact which authorities in the Western neibhours dispute. .
Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Limited was one supplier to whom a formal purchase enquiry was made.
The communication from Kaloswe further said that should Admarc fail to make the said payment module within a given period of time -whose deadline was July 1, 2016- then the Zambian firm would automatically pull the plug down on Admarc.
True to Kaloswe’s premeditated fear Admarc was not interested with the preliminary estimates of the whole deal. As such there was no commitment by Admarc up until the expected period elapsed.
Kaloswe however made a final reminder to Admarc a day before the deadline just in case there had been change of heart.
When July 1, 2016 came and went by, Kaloswe reportedly rushed to Zambia’s opposition politicians and gave them their picture of the story.
To Kaloswe, Admarc had dumped them for ZCFL in the supply of 100, 000 metric tonnes of maize through dubious ways. What they did not know was that the ZCFL deal was just part of the 300,000 metric tonnes being sought after.
Besides Kaloswe and ZCFL, Admarc also made formal purchase enquiries to several suppliers all of who had their own specifications in their respective contracts.
Following the withdraw from Kaloswe deal Admarc is still looking for a supplier to issue the remaining 200,000 metric tonnes.
The Zambian company has since reportedly dragged Admarc to court for breach of contract, having already done so with the Zambia Cooperative Federation over similar charges.
President Peter Mutharika has formed a commission of inquiry to look into the whole issue.
The CSOs have however asked Mutharika to include members of the civil rights groups and members of parliament in the commission of inquiry.
Leader of the CSOs on the maizegate, Robert Mkwezalamba, executive director of the Malawi Human Rights Consulative Council said the current members of the commission, chaired by former chief justice Anastanzia Msosa can easily be manipulated.
But presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said the commission of inquiry appointed by Mutharika comprises of Malawians of high integrity.
Admarc reportedly has not paid any peny to ZCF up until they reach 10,000 metric tonnes threshold of delivery. The money will be paid from K26 billion which government borrowed from the PTA Bank for the purchase of the maize.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :