The joint inquiry by Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security with Public Accounts Committee into the procurement process of maize from neighbouring Zambia intends to subpoena PTA Bank officials to explain on the money remittance related to the issue.
Malawi government obtained a loan of K26 billion ( $34.5 million) 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.
The government disputes that money was paid to Zambia private company Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd or Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZFC), a government agency.
But during the start of the inquiry session on Tuesday it was learnt that details of payment have been reported in Zambian media.
Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said they will investigate from the PTA Bank on the cash transactions.
“As we go along, we will be probing the evidence of the Letter of Credit that have been issued, if any,” said Malunga during the session which was covered live on private Zodiak radio.
“We intend to invite representatives of PTA Bank in Malawi so that they can provide their side of the story and see whether money really exchanged hands of whether money was wired to Zambia,” said Malunga.
He said more information “will be coming out as we get deeper into the investigations.”
The maize purchase deal is currently marred with controversy regarding contractual issues involving the State-produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).
While Admarc insists that it is buying the staple grain from Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF), a government agency, documents show that Admarc used a middleman Kaloswe.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya has said that the Zambian government has nothing to do with the maizegate as the Malawian government did not buy maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) but from individual farmers.
Siliya said the only role the Zambian government played was to issue a permit of clearance, while the Malawian government came and identified a private agent to procure the maize on its behalf.
“We allowed for the export to Malawi because the contract was signed before the ban on exports was effected.
“The contract was signed in June 2016 under a government-government arrangement to help Malawi with the commodity following a drought which only spared Zambia in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC),” said Siliya in quoted in a report by Zambian Observer.
“The Malawian government identified an agent, the maize suppliers and also negotiated the terms without any input from the Government,” she said.
She said after the Malawian government sought Zambia’s assistance; the Government provided them with a permit to import maize while the maize export ban was still in effect.
Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) in Malawi said they approved a request from Admarc to procure 100 000 metric tonnes of non-genetically modified maize from Zambia at $345 per tonne.
ODDP director Paul Taulo said Admarc first submitted a request to buy maize from Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd and after its approval, the corporation changed, opting to buy from Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZFC) at the same price of $345 per tonne.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :