Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) has called for justice over the alleged misappropriation and maladministration and related irregularities on the purchase and disposal of farm machinery such as tractors and shellers bought under Indian line of credit amounting to USD50 Dollars in the infamous tractor gate.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe following the trip which FUM undertook to Gorgia in USA, in order to appreciate peanut industry, FUM President, Alfred Kapichira Banda, said the tractors which have been shared amongst the rich through dubious tenders were meant for the local farmers.
“As FUM an organization which speaks for the farmers would like to condemn Government for selling the tractors because Parliament authorised the loan from India in order to help ordinary farmers,” Banda said.
Top government civil servants and politicians including Speaker of National Assembly, Richard Msowoya, former vice President Khumbo Kachali, Chief of Staff and operation at State house Peter Mukhito and Foreign Minister Francis Kasaila, MCP MP Rhino Chiphiko are among beneficiaries.
Others are DPP national organisation secretary Richard Makondi, Grey Nyandule Phiri from the Ministry of Agriculture,r Peter Simbani from Finance Ministry, Moffat Chitimbe, Samuel Madula, , Mr Lipita from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ivy Luhanga, Charles Kambauwa, Muli Enterprise and Ben Botolo.
In a 46 paged Office of the Ombudsman’s (OoO) report titled “The Present toiling, the future overburdened”, which is in our possession after it was released a week ago gives account on how the whole deal flopped and became a pray to politicians and civil servants.
The report gives a clear picture into allegations of maladministration and related irregularities on the purchase and disposal of farm machinery in 2010 under Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India line of credit worth US$ 50 million.
About 177 tractors and 144 maize shellers bought for the use of small farmers were snapped up at nominal prices by government officials, in a scam allegedly disguised as a routine auction of government equipment.
In parliament on Thursday, MCP lawmaker Juliana Lunguzi moved a motion to ensure those botched the deal are brought to book with totality complying the Office of Ombudsman orders and recommendation to prevent the future recurrence of the same.
Lunguzi (Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Member for Dedza East) moved that contrary to Section 3 of the Export-Import Bank of India (Loan) uthorisation Act, 2010 (Act no 2 of 2011), the government sold tractors obtained under the loan and asked the House to resolve that.
She said it was wrong for Malawi government to change what had been approved in National Assembly just to benefit a few elites as smallholder faremrs were left wtih no ther option other than the age-old method of agriculture.
MPs approved the motion to reverse the irregularities committed in the sale of the tractors.
In the end the tractors will not outlive the loan repayment period resulting next generation subjected to loans that they neither nor their ancestors benefited from. The present generation is tailing on the farms while the future overburdened for nothing.
The tractors, purchased for R740 000 each, were sold in 2014 for R100 000. The sale raised a paltry MK600-million (R12-million), meaning that the balance of the bank loan for the purchase of the tractors will be repaid by the Malawians’ taxpayers money.
The US$ 50 million loan was secured as a result of one of the India/African Summit where the late and former President Bingu wa Mutharika negotiated which was meant for three purposes to finance cotton processing facilities (US$ 20 million), Green Belt Initiative (GBI)-US$15 million and One Village One Product (OVOP)-US$15 million
The funds were particularly intended to procure materials for construction of earth dams and canals such as excavators, motor graders, bulldozers, trippers and farm mechanization equipment including tractors, trailers, ridges, planters and rice threshers among other.
The loan was therefore taken from EXIM Bank under Loan (Authorization) Bill, 23 of 2010 which was passed in Malawi Parliament on December 8, 2010.
The funds were in the form of a line of credit advanced to the Malawi government to be repaid over a period of twenty years after a grace of period of five years.
From Parliamentary proceedings which approved this loan, it was clearly indicated that the funds intended to move Malawi from being rain fed reliant nation with ultimate aim of ensuring self-sufficient on food production.
Eventually, Malawian farmers would start appreciating the value of their work while turning the country into an exporting one other than importing nation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :