Zambia’s Opposition File Complaint on Malawi Maize Saga

President of the opposition United Progressive People (UPP) in Zambia Saviour Chishimba has filed an official complaint with that country’s Anti-Corruption Commission, alleging some government officials and business persons connived with Malawi government officials to plunder public resources through a maize export deal.

In Malawi on Friday a newly-appointed board of the state-run Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) called for an extraordinary meeting with the company’s management over the controversial maize deal.

According to new Admarc board’s chairperson James Masumbu, findings of the meeting will be shared with the public early next week. He said the board will make recommendations on the matter.

This comes at a time president Peter Mutharika has appointed a commission of inquiry led by retired judge and chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Justice Anatsazia Msosa, to investigate the matter.

Within the week, several Malawi government entities that played a role in the saga have been opening up in an attempt to clarify their involvement.

The maize was bought through a bank loan guaranteed by the Reserve Bank of Malawi which is managing the loan through Admarc.

Masumbu, who also part of a previous Admarc board that approved the deal, said most transactions were concluded when the board had finished its mandate not that it was bypassed as most critics believe.

The deal has become controversial after revelations that Malawi did not deal directly with the Zambian government but rather a private firm and that the grain was bought a higher-than-usual price.

The opposition in Zambia is also demanding for answers as to why the deal was approved in the first place when the government there had imposed a ban on maize exports owing to threats of hunger in the whole of Southern Africa

The opposition in Zambia is also demanding for answers as to why the deal was approved in the first place when the government there had imposed a ban on maize exports owing to threats of hunger in the whole of Southern Africa.

On Friday President Mutharika said he would not rush to act on the matter until the commission of inquiry makes recommendations, saying he acts on facts not rumors. He was speaking after he swore in members of the commission at Kamuzu Palace in the capital Lilongwe.

Malawi’s minister of agriculture George Chaponda is under pressure from the civil society to resign to pave way for smooth investigations into the matter. He has refused to resign, saying he did nothing wrong.

In a live programme on Zodiak radio on Friday night, deputy director of information Gideon Munthali called for patience in the matter, saying the commission of inquiry should be allowed to perform its role without being judged based on past commissions of inquiry.

He was reacting to concerns by rights activist Gift Trapence that the commission will not work effectively because it does not include members of the opposition and civil society.

Munthali also claimed it was wrong for people to jump into conclusion that money was stolen because currently no penny from the deal was released for purchase of grain.

"You can verify with the PTA Bank, the money is still intact in their account," he said.

The deal was made as part of efforts to minimise effects of hunger that has affected about 6.5 million Malawians this year as a result of bad rains and floods.

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On Friday President Mutharika said he would not rush to act on the matter until the commission of inquiry makes recommendations, saying he acts on facts not rumors. He was speaking after he swore in members of the commission at Kamuzu Palace in the capital Lilongwe.

Malawi’s minister of agriculture George Chaponda is under pressure from the civil society to resign to pave way for smooth investigations into the matter. He has refused to resign, saying he did nothing wrong.

In a live programme on Zodiak radion on Friday night, deputy director of information Gideon Munthali called for patience in the matter, saying the commission of inquiry should be allowed to perform its role without being judged based on past commissions of inquiry.

He was reacting to concerns by rights activist Gift Trapence that the commission will not work effectively because it does not include members of the opposition and civil society.

Munthali also claimed it was wrong for people to jump into conclusion that money was stolen because currently no penny from the deal was released for purchance of grain. 

"You can verify with the PTA Bank, the money is still intact in their account," he said.

The deal was made as part of efforts to minimise effects of hunger that has effected about 6.5 million Malawians this year as a result of bad rains and floods.

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